Catching a Calf at Midnight (aka, #RanchLife)

Last night was a great night. Matt came over. Grandparents came over. Cousins came over. Delicious food was consumed. Laughter was abundant. Molly was a brat (needless to say). And then everyone left and things started falling apart.

Less than five minutes after Matt left the house, Kale came running up to the house yelling that one of the calves we're weaning, named Jet, was on the other side of the fence. We quickly ran outside to help get him back in his spot. Side note: we just pulled these babies from the other pasture, away from their mommy's, about 24 hours before. So they were crying (mooing) a lot. Well, we couldn't hear him, so the mini search quickly turned into a full-scale "search and rescue" with dad on the fourwheeler, mom in dad's truck, and me in mom's Jeep. Dad was sure he was in the field just to our north on the other side of our fence (that field is of course not fenced) so our efforts were concentrated there for quite a while until we had searched every square inch, when we began driving up and down the road, into the little turn around things at field entrances, etc. We covered the entire stretch of road that we live on, including side roads, searching for the calf. Eventually, a call for help was put out on Facebook and we decided the search would have to commence in the morning when we could see the jet-black calf that had escaped into the middle of nowhere with NO lighting to help us see.

We come in and everyone gets ready for bed, all slightly discouraged over not finding this calf. I laid in bed and thought I was hearing things - there was mooing coming from somewhere close. You're just hearing things because you wanted to find that calf so badly. Go to sleep, he'll be found in the morning. I laid there for a while longer and the mooing continued. Oh yeah, there are calves being weaned on the other side of the house. It's probably just them. After a few minutes, probably 5 total, I realized that mooing was not coming from the west side of the house, nor was it made up in my head - it was definitely coming from somewhere outside my window.

I hop out of bed, run down the stairs and tell my parents what I'm hearing. We all pull on our boots - in pajamas of course - and head out, thinking the calf is in the front yard and we'll be back inside in no time. We quickly see the calf isn't in the yard and take off for the road, thinking he's just on the other side of our fence, but in a spot we have to use the road to get to. False.

He was down the road, across the road, and in an entirely different field. How he got in, I have no clue. Thankfully dad thought well enough to bring the four wheeler, although unfortunately I had NO IDEA how to work it. Mom ran to get a rope, halter and gloves for dad. As she climbed the fence, she lost a shoe and ended up needing to borrow my right boot - leaving me with one bare foot (I forgot socks - brilliant). Also, the spotlight we had would only work if the four wheeler was on AND you shook it up. #sketch. Anyway, Daddy should have been a calf roper because he quickly got Jet roped. Holding on to the calf was an entirely different story though... he is definitely not halter broken and he gave dad quite a ride. At one point, running across the field to get him, my dad tripped in a hole and took a nice roll (definitely a 10 in the olympics of falling gracefully). Somehow, as mom was trying to explain to me how to put the four wheeler in drive (I had been reversing or putting it in neutral and pushing/pulling - no wonder I'm so sore!), the calf got out of the fence, ran across the road, ran down another road, and into the north field we originally thought he was in.

Mom headed to get an actual vehicle while dad and I started across the field on the four wheeler (with him at the wheel and me trying to avoid cutting my foot on the six foot high weeds). We find Jet and (eventually) catch him. We sent mom for the trailer so we could load him up, and dad had me drive the four wheeler on around to the other side of the calf to give better light (or something). Somehow during all the crazy driving of the four wheeler, the spotlight cord got pressed up against the muffler. As I'm sitting on the four wheeler with one shoe on and dad is holding on to a rope on the opposite end of a 500 lb. crazy calf, I see sparks. Then I smell smoke. Then I realize there's a mini fire. Dad tells me to get off the four wheeler...and a few seconds later, he realizes there's a legit fire going on. He hands me the calf rope (because clearly given a choice between me barefoot on gravel and nothing I was the obvious choice to hold the calf #not) and runs over to fix the fire. Apparently the nice way I had rolled the cord had fallen off when I hopped off and it too had turned into a ball and caught fire. During all of this, I was convinced Jet was about to rip a t-post out of the ground and break away (I believe he did bend a few pretty well).

As we get the fire put out, mom pulls up in the trailer. We start to get the calf on the trailer, and it looks like a successful try...when he slips loose. Dad re-catches him, and again we were just inches away from having him in the trailer when he decides to make a break for the fence...forcing his dead through, then his shoulders, then his entire body. Well I guess we know what fence to start with when fixing at least...

Dad headed back to the barns on the four wheeler to fix fences so we don't have anymore escapees tonight, and I was locked in the trailer for the ride back (there was no way I was walking more than a few feet on dark gravel in an overgrown field where I had no idea where the next snake would come from). When we got back, I looked like a trapped child peeking though the gate, mom and I wished we had a camera, and decided this was blog material, if nothing else (although I'm thinking some sort of terrible initiation).

Lessons learned: keep your fences in tip-top shape, don't go out to catch cattle without your socks on, don't let me touch anything that could potentially start a fire, and keep a running tab at the orthopedic doctor for the Kennedy family (dad's arm/ribs may need to be checked, and mom and Kale just went in today).

This story probably has some hilarious parts left out, so it may be edited as mom and I continue laughing about our misadventure in retelling it for the next few days.

Also, catching a 150 pound lamb is much easier than catching a 500 pound calf. #TeamSheep


  1. Oh my goodness sounds like you had a crazy night!! Glad it sounds like everyone is OK though :)

    1. It was definitely a crazy night! And yes we're all okay - thank you :)