The Little Cowgirl Expands Her Herd

My Generation

There's a new calf on the farm, and we're looking back - way back - at show heifers, first calves and cowgirl excitement.

Published on: January 24, 2013

You may remember Granite. She made a rather auspicious debut at the Cuba livestock show last year. By summer's end, she'd proven herself worthy of the title, "Showmanship Heifer." In show-cattle-speak, that means she went from a head-tossing, let-me-try-and-kick-you attitude to one of general obedience and tolerance of her show ring surroundings. Really, that's a pretty massive turnaround.

In a little girl's world, it's enough to endear an animal forever.

Granite was due to calve January 13, and Jenna began hounding her dad to get her in the barn somewhere around Christmastime. She watched her regularly the week before, with no sign of any impending calf. Granite was the original watched pot that wouldn’t boil. Jenna checked her three times a day, and casually mentioned that she may have to stay home from school. You know. Just in case.

We decided to give the new mama some space, as a bouncing little baby calf made her nervous. Also, I managed to bring the good camera to the barn without the memory card...so its an iPhone photo. But I think you can still sense the excitement.
We decided to give the new mama some space, as a bouncing little baby calf made her nervous. Also, I managed to bring the good camera to the barn without the memory card...so it's an iPhone photo. But I think you can still sense the excitement.

As it turns out, that wasn't necessary. With little warning or fanfare, Granite had her calf last week, very considerately doing so one day after school.

Jewel was born, and Jenna was smitten.

She chose her name, "because it has to be something like a rock." Done. Little Jewel was up and walking in 10 minutes, nursing shortly after and running within an hour. Already, she seems to be a pretty good match for her owner.

Why yes, this was in the 80s. Please look away from the fuzzy disaster that was my hair, and focus on that fuzzy adorable little calf.
Why yes, this was in the '80s. Please look away from the fuzzy disaster that was my hair, and focus on that fuzzy adorable little calf.

It's a big deal, this calving of your first heifer. As I sat here writing, I remembered a photo of me with my first show heifer's calf. Princess Royal the 16th was a big, beautiful roan heifer, and she made a great cow. It's funny the things you remember; I can very clearly remember going down to the barn to see the calf for the first time. I even remember wearing this coat with those crazy little pins. But I can't recall whether she had a bull or a heifer. Odd. I'll have to pull the records out.

Anyway. It's been a big week on the Spangler farm. Jenna's already plotting the cow/calf pair classes she can enter this summer, and informing her brother that while he may be leading Jewel, she still belongs to Jenna. And she's got her show heifer for 2014 all ready to go. This should be fun.

I just hope little Jewel is up for it.