Lessons Taught by Cow #674




Mother’s Day — a day for all of us to think about our moms.  Mine was your typical ranch matron — full of ambition and good nature. She could tell you the history of every cow on the place. The kitchen was always bustling with something to eat. A proud Swiss Italian,  mom cracked the whip on five busy sons. She was sometimes firm and most of the time playful — the rock of the family. My dad and brothers adored her.

Spring is finally here. Green grass and flowers are exploding everywhere. It’s busy and we like it that way. We are mending fences before moving cows to the mountains for the summer. Everything spring is replacing the bleakness of winter.

It’s time to look back and take stock on the important things. Mother’s Day is a good day to remember the joys of ranching. Despite some of the challenges we are lucky to be in the business of raising cattle.

Calving in Montana’s Big Sky Country this year was difficult. Wicked wind storms and snow pounded the ranch. In the midst of heavy snows, cold winds and mud, calving felt like an endless chore. It was hard but I watched and learned one day a powerful lessons from Cow #674. She reminded me the power of a mom.

An early morning check on the cows revealed the worst — a dead calf.  There she was Cow #674 standing guard over her dead newborn. Sometimes ranch life hardens you to certain realities. This time it was different. The cow stomped the ground, then moved nervously back and forth. She wouldn’t let me get close. It seemed that this cow was mourning her calf. It caught my attention as I could kind of feel her loss.

There were other cows and chores to do, but I couldn’t get cow #674 out of my mind. I looked back over the fence and watched this single cow stay with her calf. It was a powerful sight. Later in the afternoon, we moved the cow to a pen away from the cow/calf pairs and this story seems to be over.

No, here’s is where the life lesson begins.

A day passed when luck came our way. Another cow had a set of twins. In the world of calving, “double troubles” are sometimes a nuisance. The calves are sometimes weak and prone to sickness. Grafting another cow to a calf is difficult and doesn’t always work. We moved Cow #674 into a pen with this tiny black calf. This newborn was really uncertain about the real world. The wait between new mom and calf didn’t take long. Cow #674 took to the calf immediately. She nudged the calf on her feet and started nursing. It was like this cow was longing to have a calf. It seemed the baby calf felt loved. I was impressed. There’s something about a mom and a baby.

We move pairs from the small calving lot to a series of bigger pastures. Each time, I took a special liking to cow #674 and her calf as they passed out the gate. In the two months, I can say everything is going well. They are out in a large pasture now. I saw the bond of mom and baby. It feels good to be a part of that.

Most of us think about moms this time of year. I was a momma’s boy and very proud of that. I am grateful for what mom taught me. Cow #674 reminded me a lot of my own upbringing. All those moments of growing up for any of us are full of adventure. Moms of all kinds are just special. Some human mothers might cringe at the comparison to a cow. I think I deserve a pass on this one. Cow #674 and moms everywhere emphasize life’s important traits:

  • Patience–Things do not always go as planned. Stay on course and keep positive. Things have a way of working out.
  • Never Look Back–We spend too much time in the what ifs, would haves and should haves. Cow #674 proved that opportunities await us.
  • Be Thankful–No matter the situation be grateful. Sometimes what seems to be the worst turns into the best. Always have a little faith.
  • Work Hard–Most things in this world don’t come easy. Cows and busy moms teach us to have a little grit. A good helping of “WT” or want to is a good thing.
  • Trust Others–We can’t always go it alone. Cows put trust in us; we need them. Have confidence and belief that others can help us.
  • Accept Change–We cannot live in a world of sameness. Cows are adaptable to the climate, pastures and the way we treat them. Change is not a bad thing. My mom always sought out to learn new things. Maybe humans need to embrace change.

In honor of Mother’s Day, it’s good to remember the influences of “mom” in our lives. Moms come in all forms. Appreciate all they do for us. Moms are the beacons, guiding us we we need it.



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