Friday, June 17, 2016

Adventures in Oklahoma

If you will recall, OkieRhio has been talking about our adventure together in Oklahoma. Well, there is at least one story that she can't tell you because she wasn't there for it.

Rhi had gone back to OKC and I was chilling at our campsite by myself for a few days. I decided to go over to the pond and toss a line in for a while, just to relax and pass the time as I had all the camp chores done If I caught something, it was going into the stew pot that day.

After about an hour, I decided to call it quits and head back to grab some delicious, wonderful well water water from the hose. As I was walking back up to the house, I happened to glance over at the calf pen,  and I noticed that Little Red was out and bucking around.

They had four calves at that point in the pen, and I did a head count. Three.

Something was wrong. I charged into the field towards the pen only to find a calf, Erika the Red, was in big trouble.

Somehow she had managed to wedge her head into the gate. Her head was under it, and the full weight of her body was twisted around and sitting on top of the gate. She also wasn't visibly breathing.

My only thought at this point was "Shit. I'm going to have to explain to Jen and Craig why their prize calf has a .45 in the back of her head."

I started tugging on her legs, trying to get her untwisted. When I got her weight off of the gate, she heaved a huge breath and looked at me as if to ask, "All right, human. What now?" 

I was crying at this point, just straight up bawling and talking to her. This was a situation where if she panicked again, she could snap her neck or kick me in the head.

After tugging her into a position where she could breathe easier, I started looking at the gate for where it connected to the fence. Thank the Gods, the owners had only used bailing wire.

Moments later, I was able to disconnect the gate and quickly began sizing up how I needed to move it. I started hauling it up on its side and adjusting Erika's head as I went, trying to untwist her neck enough to where she could slip out.

However, once the pressure from the gate let up, she began bucking and spinning herself in a 360, which caused me to lose my grip on the gate. Then I tucked down and caught the gate with my back
as Erika came crashing down beside me.

She looked at me again. "Now what, genius?"

I extracted myself out from under the gate, and went back to trying to haul it up to where she would be able to work her head out. I got it standing again, and she got to bucking again, but at this point the two of us had managed to get her into a position where she could twist herself free.

One turn, two turns, three turns, and on the fourth turn she managed to get free... and then came down straight onto my left foot. She weighed about 200 - 350 lbs. at that point.

I managed to keep hold of the gate as she got herself clear, and then shoved it over with no small amount of disdain. Then I turned and looked at her. She took several steps away and kept giving me "I meant to get my head stuck." looks

"Are you going to let me check you over?"

"Hell no." Ericka the Red became Ericka the Dumb.

I limped my way back over to the ranch house -- maybe 30, 40 yards -- and plopped into a chair with relief. I had managed to keep a prize calf from suffocating to death. Honestly, that's the second worst kind of death after drowning in my book. I didn't have to shoot her to put her out of misery and I would have not felt good about that.

Now, saving Ericka was crucial for the Masseys (the people who own Knight's Rest). This is a $4,500 dollar calf! She is a back-breeding of a Viking Red sire out of a Jersey Dame. and this is a rare breed -- though I'm not entirely sure why,  as they are super milkers. Ericka's sister is 15+ years old and still milking strong on a farm out in California. Assuming Ericka doesn't do anything else stupid, she will be a boon and blessing for the Masseys in about a year.

And my foot? After Craig Massey returns and I explained what happened to him, he invited me in to chill on the couch and ice it. The next day I had no bruises and no broken bones. Ericka had come straight down on me, and if she had been an inch in any other direction, I'd have been calling Renee to come get me and we'd have been sitting in a hospital for a few hours.

And the only scolding I got?

Was for giving myself a hard time over it taking me a minute and a half to figure out how to save Erika.

Yeah, you read that right. I'm still pissed at myself at how long it took.

My story here is an example of how quickly things can go wrong on a farm, and that you have to be willing to get dirty and hurt to save your livestock sometimes. They are your life, and they are your keys to a good future.

Just be sure they don't have half the personality Ericka does.

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