Heifer calves are much quicker to jump up and get going, cavorting around their mamas within thirty minutes, sometimes, of plopping out onto the ground for their first experience on earth. Bull calves seem to curl up and want that earth to go away, taking much more time to make their way up onto their long legs.
For example, Calf 191 (names have been changed to protect from identity theft) was up, had her first fill of mama’s milk and was off and running while her mama bawled at her and had to run to catch up. Calf 44 laid in the grass for a long while, got up and staggered around, finally getting to the right end of his mama to get his first milk and then collapsed into first milk coma for quite some time.
The cows also have various reactions when I come close to tag their newborn babes, so we humans know who belongs to whom. Most of them watch me cautiously, but don’t interfere with this quick maneuver. Some come close, putting their nose on my sleeve as if to explain that I need to be gentle, or, that if I make one wrong move, they will not be happy. I talk to them and they seem to understand that I mean no harm. Once the tagging is done, baby gets lots of licking and that low quiet moan sound that mamas make to their calves.
And so it goes until I find myself up in the bed of the pickup and not entirely sure how I got there, my husband has somehow leaped into the passenger side (he happened to be with me on this occasion) and Cow 116 has made it perfectly clear that this tagging will not be tolerated with her very special youngster. She has filed her complaint with the board, and we will hear about if we dare to get where she can run us over. We played chase around the Tundra, I got the tag attached, and then we had to wait until Calf 116 wandered far enough away from the tire that we could straighten our clothes and pretend that we were really in charge.