Cindy has a great personality.
Okay, that’s not the truth. Actually, she has a really, REALLY nasty disposition.
But, as I reflect on Mother’s Day weekend, I feel compelled to say she is a good mama. And by good mama, what I mean is she will kill any human who comes between her and her calf. You have to respect that.
“No, I don’t have to respect that,” said the very lovely Mrs. Smith, on many occasions.
“She’s misunderstood,” I always insist.
“She’s a cow,” Mrs. Smith retorts.
“She has low self-esteem because she’s very ugly and she knows it. You need to tell her she looks nice. I do so every day. I tell her her hair looks nice, that she’s pretty, things like that. It makes her feel better about herself.”
“She’ll still try to kill you.”
Fair enough; she will.
She is a Producer
Year after year the argument I make is that Cindy is a good mama cow who has given us many nice calves. Two of my best cows came from her, and they are wonderful, pleasant cows who don’t try to kill you. Miss Kay and Jackie. Also, I promise that the first time she doesn’t breed, she’s out of here. Hamburger. Carne asada.
But Crazy Cindy never disappoints; every year she is bred and ready to produce another one for us. The calf she currently has at her side is the eighth for the Rafter S, our little ranchette. Who knows how many calves she popped out before we got her?
How She Earned her Name
I bought her from a cowboy friend named Oliver. He is the one who named her “Crazy Cindy.”
“Why Crazy Cindy?” I had asked.
“Because she’ll kill you if you aren’t careful with her, at least when she has a calf at her side.”
“Okay, but why ‘Cindy’?”
He named her after an ex-girlfriend whom he had declared insane. To bolster his point, this cowboy told me a few stories about the ex over the days and weeks that followed. We would be riding our geldings through a herd of cattle he managed in Donnelly, Idaho, or driving home down the snaky mountain roads in his old pickup with four horses in a trailer behind us, the wind rushing through our open windows stirring the dust from our clothes.
A Story to Prove His Point
I’ll have the good taste not to share most of Oliver’s stories about his ex in this blog, but one tale stood out from the others, driving home the point.
Oliver had stayed out late one night and stumbled home in the wee hours a tad intoxicated. The ex—Crazy Cindy—was none too happy about it, and she made sure he was aware of that fact. The next day, he walked outside to see water gushing from the cab of his truck, a pool of water gathered around it. A garden hose had been placed through one of the windows, the valve fully opened, and left running all night.
My family came to appreciate the title Cindy had earned. We learned to be careful around her as if our very lives depended on it. You never take your eye off her, and when she drops her head, stares at you, and starts scuffing the turf with one hoof, you back out of the kill zone as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, when you own cows, there are certain things that have to be done with them.
In the Kill Zone.
One year, Cindy lost her calf at birth. I went to the sale barn the next day and bought a day-old leppy calf that I had hoped Cindy would take as her own. A leppy is a calf who has no mama, something that can occur for a variety of reasons. A leppy must be bottle-fed or adopted by a cow whose bag is full of milk.
There are several ways to get a cow to take a leppy as her own, but with Cindy, the safest way was to rope her and snub her to a tree on one end and a post on the other. Once secured, the new calf was introduced to the bag of groceries that hung between her hind legs.
Usually, that process only takes a couple of times before the cow accepts the baby as her own.
The first day we did this a total of three times: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The next day, we did it in the morning and noted there was little resistance from Cindy. When we went to repeat it at lunchtime, we walked into her pen. I had my rope ready and focused on Cindy. Lesli went straight for the calf that was positioned on the opposite side of the pen from Cindy, and she inadvertently placed herself between the two. Cindy charged her at full speed!
Lesli went over the fence but not without a little help. Cindy reached Lesli as she was climbing the panel and nailed her in the backside with her big ugly head, launching Lesli over the top. Then Cindy turned to me and began pawing at the turf. I stayed behind the tree trunk until an opportunity to flee presented itself, and then up and over the fence did I too go, unassisted but highly motivated.
At that point, it was obvious that Cindy had taken the baby as her own, so the two were left alone and the crazy cow raised a wonderful little orphan.
Other Dangerous Moments
When calves are first born, we administer a shot of “BoSe,” (pronounced bo-see), a combination of selenium and Vitamin E, in order to prevent white muscle disease. To do so, my wife and I generally wait until the evening feeding time and, once the hay is down and the cows busy, we can quickly grab a newborn and give it a shot without much trouble.
For Cindy’s calf, however, a SWAT-worthy operation plan is put in place. Usually, we ride the four-wheeler between Cindy and her calf, quickly grab the calf and give it a shot before Cindy charges. Most times, we can get that done before the redheaded beauty gets herself too riled up and kills one of us. One year, however, she chased us BOTH over the fence. You’d be surprised how fast you can move when a mad cow is chasing you.
A Happy Ending
All is well that ends well, and on this Mother’s Day, the crazy Corriente mama named Cindy gave me a kiss for taking good care of her baby.
Photos by Randi Jo Sylvester, Lemon & Honey Photos
Available in Killeen, Texas and Boise, Idaho for portraits, weddings, couples, family photos, and more. Show Randi Jo your support by visiting her website here.
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