Ranch Life: Dirty Boots and Hands

Saving a drowning and freezing calf is just another day on the ranch. ( Courtesy of Wyatt Bechtel )

Raising cattle means there are always times when you have to get your hands dirty. In mid-February I really got to get my hands dirty.

Normally I spend my weeks in the Kansas City-metro area working from the office, but for this week I was working from my family’s ranch in the Flint Hills doing chores while my dad and brother were busy.

Going out to feed our cows one morning I found one of our fall calves stuck in a pond. He was nearly up to his neck in mud, so I wasn’t able to drive him out of his predicament. I recruited my mother to drive a truck, and we were able to pull the steer out with a rope.

I cleaned the steer as best I could before we eventually took him to our machine shed to boost his temperature and monitor him more closely. It was a close call but he did survive.

Here are some photos that show the predicament we were in:

Calf Stuck in Mud

Like many ranches in our area we depend on ponds for stock water, but the current drought has dropped pond levels making mud a problem.


Muddy Calf with Cow

I struggled for 1.5 hours nearly submerged with my hip waders in almost freezing water before my mom and I could finally get him pulled past the pond bank.


Warming up Calf

After cleaning the mud off, we let the calf rest for 3 hours. He had a temperature of 88°F, so we took him to our heated machine shed to warm up. He was back on his feet again 12 hours later with a 99°F temperature.


#75 Alive and Well

Two days after rescuing the 450-lb. steer from the pond, we sent Calf #75 back to the pasture where he is now nursing his mother and eating in the feed line.