When I finally find the time… I’m going to put something like this together from our ranch.  But for now, enjoy this from the Peterson Farm Bros.  SUPER FUNNY!



Have you ever opened your refrigerator to this sight?


After 13 years of being married to a Damonte, I’m still not used to this sight. A bag full of nuts. I guess it’s the same as being married to a fisherman and coming home to a frig full of crab. Oh wait. No it’s not. These are calf testicles. Not crab legs. Nope, hard as I try, I just can’t compare this to anything in the normal world. And I know what you’re thinking. “Did she really cook them?” “Have I ever been to her house and been offered an appetizer of mystery meat only to be tricked into eating testicles?” “I’m never eating over there again!” “Does she feed those to her kids?” OK, allow me to answer that final thought you’ve all had. No, I haven’t cooked them for the kids. But, yes, we did trick them into thinking they ate them. We are that mean. We look for every chance to humor ourselves, even at the expense of our children.   The other night, I made a Chinese dish with some chicken.  After Eva and Domi finished their plates Darrin said, “Wow you guys really like calf nut stir fry!”  Eva ran to the sink.  Domi looked at me with surprise and disgust on his face.  It was the same face I saw at his first communion last month when he finally got to take the host. For years, I’ve told my kids the wafers have flavors. And it’s a different one each Sunday. Chocolate, strawberry or my favorite coffee. Immediately after accepting communion for the first time, he glanced over his shoulder and slowly shook his head when our eyes met. I chuckled, he glared. Humor is subjective I guess.  You know what else is funny?  I just combined calf testicles and the holy communion into one post.   That is my life, people.






Yep, it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  But things are pretty much the same around the ranch. Except… A heifer FINALLY gets it and actually pushed out her own calf without Darrin or one of his brothers pulling it. Check this video out from Steve (Darrin’s brother). It’s far away but the calf pops out within 10 seconds and then continue watching as the heifer eventually gets up and licks the calf off. This is nature at its best.  (for some crazy reason you have to click on the link above to see the movie.  I’m tired from being at the county 4-H show all day and can’t figure out how to make it easier on all of you… some I’m making it easy on my and going to bed!)














Lots of things can go wrong when you’re dealing with live animals as your product. Seriously, why couldn’t I have married a shoe salesman? Instead, I got a guy who helps deliver calves in the middle of the night, doctors them all day… and yes, even bottle feeds them. Jimmy Choos do not take this much work! Sooo anway, last week Darrin pulled a calf out backwards. It couldn’t stand. Which means it can’t get high enough to suck from its mom’s teats. 20130329-142620.jpg

They even casted its legs to help make them stronger.




To save it’s life, the kids milked the heifer. This first milk is colostrum. It’s really important the calf gets this nutrient dense milk.

After filling 2 bottles, the kids went out to meet the calf. They named it “Rosie.” Yes, it’s a boy. No they don’t care.




Here’s the hard part… reminding the kids the calves aren’t pets… even if you do get to feed them by hand.







“Rosie” needed a few more bottles the next day but by the third day he was strong enough to suck from his mom. His casts came off a few days later. Currently, he’s frolicking in the pasture in front of my house. So many times things go wrong on the ranch. But Darrin and his family work extremely hard to make them right.


20130329-130859.jpgThe heifers are continuing to drop babies… CONSTANTLY! But as you’ve seen over the past few posts, things don’t always go smoothly. What was nice about the previous births you’ve seen is the fact the heifer took the baby. That means she’s allowing the baby to suck from her teets, she’s watching over it and Darrin doesn’t have to become a surrogate father. But at 11:36 one night last week, Darrin and I were out checking a calf he had pulled that day. You can tell I was thrilled.




He had to pull the calf out backwards, hind legs first, and the calf couldn’t stand. Hours later, he still couldn’t stand. This means he can’t suck on his mom. And that means the calf will die if Darrin do20130329-130924.jpgesn’t step in.






You can see his hooves are bent under.


The next day, Darrin’s brother Steve casted the calf’s hind legs. Who knew you could cast a calf! Thes guys will try anything to save their animals. The next step was to get the heifer into the squeeze chute so the kids could milk her. Just like in humans, the first milk in a cow is colostrum. It’s filled with anti biotics and helps the calf survive the first few days of life. The kids are milking out the colostrum so they can bottle feed it to the calf.



This looks fun, but your hands get 20130329-135823.jpgtired fast. Plus, you always have to be aware of the heifer’s legs. One quick kick and she could break your arm or worse. After milking her out, the kids put the nipples on the bottles and headed out to feed the calf. I’ll show you that tomorrow.












While Florida Gulf Coast may be shocking the basketball world… these heifers continue to rock our world.  Darrin is about half way through calving… he has a total of 130 heifers that need to give birth.  I showed you last post how he pulls a calf out in the corral.  Those are the times he gets lucky.  Normally, he has to get the heifer into a squeeze chute… like this time.










He locks her in so he can help pull the calf out.  Here you can see the chains are attached to the calf’s legs. 










  Darrin literally will lay on his back so he can pull with all of his might to get the stuck calf out of the mother.  At night, his arms ache after so much strain.





















Finally, he knows the calf is coming out.










Here’s you can see the white head emerging with the front legs.










Darrin doesn’t want to stop the forward momentum so now he’s completely laying on his back pulling as hard as he can.










And now the calf is slowing slipping out.




















The calf is now completely out…and now the real work begins.










Darrin rubs off the afterbirth from the calf….











And puts it on the mom’s face so she knows what her baby smells like.  The hope is she will take the calf.  Often times, when Darrin has to pull a calf, the mom doesn’t want anything to do with the baby.  So he’s hoping to get the calf’s smell on the mom in the hopes she will know this is her calf.










He then drags the calf into a large pen so the mom and baby can be alone and figure out they go together.










This mom took her calf.  But when they don’t, the work is doubled… tripled maybe.  I’ll explain why in my next post.

















 This spring, Darrin has 130 heifers at the home ranch and in about 3 months time, they will all have their babies.  When it rains, it pours.  In one day, Darrin had 11 heifers calve out… and at 9pm, he had to go pull a 12th.  Yes, I said pull.  Darrin gives heifers about 1  1/2 hours to calve on their own.  After that time frame, both mom and baby are in danger.  To save both their lives, Darrin literally reaches up into the heifer and with his hand pulls the calf’s hooves out of the mom.  I should note, this heifer is in an extremely odd position which made it tough to have her baby, but easy for Darrin to walk up to her.  Typically, he has to get the heifer into a squeeze chute (I’ll show you that next!).  On this night, he was able to pull the calf right on the corral. 


Next, he puts chains around the calf’s legs and every time the heifer has a contraction he pulls…with all his might.  Keep in mind, the calf is stuck. Every minute that passes, the calf is losing oxygen.  Darrin has to get the baby out. 


 Finally, the calf begins to slide out and Darrin now gently pulls it from the heifer.










 Once born, he immediately checks to make sure the airways are clear and the calf is breathing.  I’ve literally seen this man give mouth to snout resuscitation… that’s how much he cares about his animals.  This little guy was breathing on its own just fine. 


It was actually the heifer Darrin was worried about.  You can kind of see how she’s laying on her back.  Very unusual.  Cows give birth laying on their sides.  Darrin had to pull her over to get her onto her side.   As he did this, there was a huge roar of laughter from his truck where Eva and Domi were holding the spotlight.  Seeing that heifer rolled over struck their funny bone hard! 


After he pulled this calf, we started to finally go home but NO!  This day was never to end.  A 13th heifer started to calve out.  Darrin got home, waited for 90 minutes and drove back over to the corrals to check on her.  Thankfully, she did it on her own!  Darrin has got to be the most underpaid obstetrician around!   

 Blogger’s note:  Sorry these pictures are so hard to see.  Domi was holding the main spotlight about 30 yards away.  I was holding a flashlight with my left hand and trying to take pictures with my right.  Multi tasking at its best!  More to come from the nursery soon!


I came home at 9pm one night last week thinking, “Ugh,I’ve had a long day.” That is until I passed this on the road into my house.20130315-234119.jpg









And then I realized my husband was having a much longer day. “What are you three doing??” I asked? “Wendy, I’ve had 12 heifers calf out today and I’ve got another one calving out right now. Follow us. I need help holding the flash lights.”

Seriously??? A glass of wine was so close to my fingertips and now all they will be holding is a million candle watt spot light focused on the vagina of a heifer. Welcome to my world.


 Yes, it was 9 o’clock at night. Yes it was a school night. But when you’re in a ranching family, kids work late too.  So there we were, in the middle of the ranch, all working together, to make sure one heifer didn’t die while giving birth to her calf… we call that calving out… I should probably have a ranching dictionary with these posts.   And on this night, we sacrificed our good night sleep for the lives of our animals. Just wait until tomorrow to see what happens! Pretty sure this will be a first for you!








Shipping Cattle

You know how it feels when you have a gigantic basket of laundry to fold. If you’re like me, it’s a weight on your shoulders. I hate laundry. And sometimes the mountain is so large, you figure why bother?? That’s how Darrin feels about the feed lot. It’s a constant basket of hungry mouths that have to be fed. But this weekend, his weight became a little less.


Four trucks from JBS Feeders out of Malta, Idaho pulled onto the ranch to load up about 200 head of cattle.



Each truck can hold about 58 animals. The trucks are actually bi-level. The steers are directed up a ramp to the upper deck or down a ramp to the bottom deck.


They can stay in the trailer for up to 28 hours. This trip to Idaho will be 500 miles and will take about 7-8 hours.


 This is Matt and Matt. They own their own trucks and have contracts with JBS. So they basically drive all over the countryside picking up and dropping off heads of cattle. Matt, the one closest to the camera, says he has spent every night except one for the past 6 months in his sleeper cab inside his truck. The one lucky night he got a bed? It was at his ex-girlfriend’s house.  Maybe not so lucky! Matt, the one farther from my camera, says he drove 200,000 miles last year. Willie had it wrong when he sang to mamas not let their babies grow up to be cowboys. He should have said truckers!!


After loading up all the steers, Matt and Matt drove past pastures filled with cows and heifers about to give birth. And in the months to come, those calves will once again fill Darrin laundry basket just like Eva and Domi’s clothes fill mine.

It’s never ending! 







Ram Truck Super Bowl Commercial

This is why God made a farmer… and I married one.