Of babies and cowsNov 09, 2023 03:18PM ● By By Allison Eliason
It’s that time of year that we get a little extra up close and personal with our cows. We always like to know what’s going on, but with the fall preg checking we take a hands on, inside look to see just how the next year of calves will be shaping up. All along the way, we get a few comments and jokes about the birds and bees, or more like the bulls and cows, with a little wink and a chuckle.
Far too often those jokes somehow lead to comparing cows to women which really is not a safe conversation. Calling any woman a cow is grounds for a little hit with the hot shot. Thankfully, it's been a while since we have had a new baby of our own so I’m not the butt end of the preg checking jokes as often anymore. But there was once a day that this little ranch wife had her fair share of cow comparisons.
Even before our days on the ranch, my husband enjoyed pointing out, with a little too much enthusiasm, how I was just like a cow. Just as we were expecting our oldest son, he was in an animal science advanced reproduction class. In essence, they studied all the parts of reproduction and birth and I was like a hands-on lab for him with my own growing baby inside.
I very generously told him he could make all the comparisons and jokes he wanted leading up to delivery day but once we were in the hospital, it would be a hard “NO!” He nearly missed his final test for the semester when we learned my water had broken but we convinced the doctor we could wait just long enough to finish our tests before it was baby time. We learned after the fact that missing an advanced repro final for childbirth was an automatic pass because CLEARLY they understood how reproduction worked.
When we were finally in the hospital having baby, things didn’t all work like we had hoped for. Things were slow to progress and forgetting the deal we had made, my-rancher-of-a-husband commented that if I was a first calf heifer so slow to calve, he would have grabbed the chains and pulled the calf already. It only got worse when the doctor declared it was time for a c-section and looked at my husband to ask, “You’ve done this before right?” to which he answered, “Well... on cows.” Without missing a beat, the doctor quipped, “It’s all about the same!” Even the doctor was in on the cow comparing scam!
With a c-section now part of my “calving” history, my husband was quick to call me a “zipper” cow, the name we give those cows that have a scar along their side like they had been unzipped to get their calf out another way. And then he proceeded to tell me zipper cows get culled... That little comparison didn’t go over too well, as you can imagine.
Over the years of having babies, funny cow comments always pop in like when I wished my mom-bod looked a little more like it did before the babies wreaked havoc on it. Pointing out that a cow never looks like a heifer again isn’t really a comforting thought, although the intention was well meant. As the kids were growing up I was reminded how petite they were and must have a very low daily rate of gain. Once again, if I was a cow, I would probably be culled but thankfully the pediatrician is pleased with the lean kids in my pasture and so I’m not too worried about it.
Every once in a while I do wish that I was a momma cow. Can you imagine a life where you just ate and slept all day?! I would totally take the ribs showing and a tight bag that milk cows showcase after calving. And the bulls were only in the pasture a few months out of the year, that would be a definite win. But having babies every year would be less than awesome, though...
When I’m lucky, I’m not the only one to be the butt end of the cattle jokes. When the opportunity arises, there’s always someone happy to compare my husband to some herd bull. Of course, in a roundabout way I still end up being a part of the punch line.
One of the hazards of being a rancher’s wife is all too easy comparison between women and cows. There are days that the jokes flow a little faster than others- when it’s breeding season, when we test the bulls or when we preg check the cattle. And when I choose to chuckle along with everyone else, the jokes really are pretty funny.