If you get tired of reading about my problems during calving, this would be a good time to go to the sports page of the paper. Because once again I have to share my problems with you.
By Dean Meyer
You will often hear a rancher refer to a dark night as “being darker than the inside of a cow”. And only a rancher who has tried to straighten out a calf that is coming the wrong way knows how dark this is.
Yesterday we had a heifer having problems. With Shirley’s help, I got her in and reached in her. No feet. No nose. And a calf is supposed to be coming front feet first and the head right behind them. I did feel ears. That’s kind of a good news, bad news story. The good news was the head wasn’t underneath the calf. The bad news was the nose should have been there. And the front feet were doubled underneath the body.
It’s dark in there. But eventually, I got it straightened out and delivered. But, alas, I was too late.
But it brought me back to a spring a long time ago.
I was in the legislature. Shirley was calving heifers, getting two kids to school, and running a retail store in Watford. And we lived thirty miles from town.
I had a hired man that was to help, but he was as helpless as teats on a boar. But he was a good pinochle player so I kept him around.
One night, I am busy legislating at Peacock Alley. The lobbyists were buying drinks and hors-deurves or horsy dories or however you spell that, and I was feeling smart.
There was a phone call for Dean. This is decades before cell phones. A guy named Dean that worked for Newman signs went to the phone.
He came back in a few minutes and said it must be for me. There was a lady on the phone sobbing and telling something about “a calf with no head”!
I went to the phone and it was Shirley. She was trying to pull a calf and said the feet were there but the calf didn’t have a head. I assured her that the calf more than likely had a head, but it was doubled back alongside or underneath the body. Her arms were just too short to get it. My advice was to call Lee. Lee was a neighbor who bailed us out of trouble more times than I can count.
When I went back to the table, the other Dean asked what the problem was. I explained that Shirley was having trouble delivering a calf and was pretty played out. She was operating a retail-clothing store, getting two kids dressed and on the bus, watching heifers, and cooking for a hired man that was a good pinochle player.
He was pretty dang concerned about Shirley and asked if a Newman billboard outside Watford City would be appreciated.
I’m not sure if the sign is still there or not. “Meyers Department Store. Quality for less!” It was there for many years.
And Shirley thinks I just hang around the bars for my health. My work never stops. Skinny Dean
Dean Meyer is a former legislator and ranches in southwest North Dakota. He has been a columnist around the state for years.