Dogs and Cows

We are kind of in-between seasons here in MTland, end of autumn but not quite winter yet either. So I shall diverge just a smidge for this writing and talk about dogs AND cows! Both of which have 4 feet, eat lots of food, poop a lot and make all sorts of noises. Brit one of the Race to the Sky board members has a cattle ranch in between Helmville and Avon—the Little Valley Ranch she runs with her family of 3 teenage girls, Madee, Macee, Jo and her hubby, Jake.

Today was the day all the females got vet checked to see if they are pregnant or not. With dogs you can kinda tell, but with cows it is a little harder. First of all, with this kind of operation, you need lots of hands. Twelve people, a vet and a vet tech. And yes, we do still have cowboys here in MT. Tanner (with the chaps) is a tried and true cowboy on his family’s ranch in Drummund. Ranchers here help each other out in busy seasons such as this day. Shout out to Dr. Betsy Price of the Clark Fork Vet Clinic in Deerlodge, MT. She is just a tiny thing, 30ish years old (and of course, looks like she is still in H.S.). Starting out in her cute bright pink jacket/pants combo with a long glove up her left arm. Oh my, what is that for? Why the heck you would wear something so cute for the ensuing job is beyond me! She has a small devise in her left hand with a long tube on it going to a camera in her virtual-reality glasses. Yepper you guessed it, the gloved arm goes up the heifer’s anus. YIKES! Poor thing. Dr. Betsey is doing an ultrasound on about 200 cows that aren’t really into this at all. Hence needing all those extra hands to help! So up they go from the big pen into a narrow shoot, some climbing on each other, since I am guessing they might be a little claustrophic in the tight chute that is made for only 1 cow at a time. all the while mooing, snorting and you guessed it, pooping.

In come the border collies. Much like sled dogs, the collies are made for this kind of work. They LOVE rounding up cattle, nipping at their heels and staying away from kicking feet. Rowdy, is a 16 year old border collie. He is the old guy, father and grandfather to some of the other border collies here on the ranch. He is deaf, partly blind but still has that instinct to herd. Way to go, Rowdy! He is a sweetheart always likes to be petted and rubbed. I bet at night his legs are kicking and he is making all sorts of noises with his dreams of cattle and how he is the KING herder here on the ranch—I’m guessing like lead dogs do on a sled dog team!

So in the last chute they go with their head sticking out the end, they get vaccinated, eartags if they need them and a spray of some chemical concoction to get rid of lice, ticks and whatever creepy crawlies they get on them in the pasture. Then, yep,  Dr. Betsy gets in the chute with them and literally up to her shoulder poking around to see if there is a calve brewing in there, well not in the anus canal of course, but she can see the uterus which is right below that canal. Too much poop in there and she has to scoop it out as it won’t show up on the ultrasound. Guess where I was? Yeah, right next to her outside the chute along with Brit marking down on a 3 page list, if she is pregnant or not. So just to be clear, this is the back end of the cow where the tail is and there is mud flying and poop allover. I guess it just wouldn’t be right if you didn’t get any on you and I did. I just thought of it as a kind of facial, all natur-al. As you can see in the pics, the vet got the worst of it. Nice pink outfit all covered in poop. Yuk. Not quite sure how she cleans up THAT mess! But all in the life of living on a ranch. After about 4 hours and 200+ cows the job is done. Cows are calming down after that harrowing experience, eating and milling around getting their wits about them again.

Alas, Dr. Betsy isn’t quite done. Dolly Parton needs her annual checkup. So Mz. Dolly as I like to call her, is a BOZ shepherd dog. She isn’t even a year old and comes up to my waist (I’m 5’11”). She is the cute beigey dog with the orange collar. She too is meant for ranch life. Her breed originates in Turkey and is used for guarding livestock. Mz. Dolly guards her show sheep from the many apex predators we have around here, Grizzly bears, wolves and coyotes. She already has a coyote kill under her belt and she isn’t even a year old! She will top 200+ pounds when she is done growing. Mz. Dolly is a lover too. Rub her ears and belly and you will be her friend for life. Dr. Betsy gives her a once over and her needed shots and then she finally gets to go home. Mz. Dolly too is good for another 50K miles at least!

All in all a good day. Out in the fresh air, tinted with the smell of cow and off we all go up to the main house and FOOD. Just like mushers, you ring the dinner bell and everyone comes a runnin. About an hour ride home for me, back to Seeley Lake and blogging…….

C.Jewett