More ranch terminology explained
It's time for another ranch country language lesson. Note: If you haven't taken this language class before, you can do the make-up work by visiting my blog. I have reposted the two previous columns containing other terms.
Livestock: It is not a hot new aggressive investment, though livestock can occasionally get aggressive. Here, livestock refers to a large number of headaches with four legs and a tail.
Field corn: Not suitable for human consumption in third-world countries, but a type of feed for herbivores instead, which gets converted into food called beef for human consumption.
One activist group tries to convince easily influenced and ignorant people that third-world countries have people starving because this kind of corn is being fed to livestock instead of humans in a ploy to get Americans to become vegetarians (I'm not making this up).
Butcher critter: A sorted-off yearling calf or 2-year-old that usually gets quite spunky from feeling its oats and is raised to be processed and packaged into different meat cuts to fill a native's freezer.
Stem: An appendage that gives a bull a reputation for being a bovine Casanova; used for reproductive purposes.
Broken stem: A bull's reproductive organ that's been injured, thus rendering him unpopular with the cows, his services useless.
Springer(s): Unlike bouncy cows, springers are cows that demonstrate or show signs of calving soon.
LA 200: To non-natives, it may describe people from LA driving 200 mph on freeways, but in ranch country it's an antibiotic for livestock that are sick or have an infection and need medical attention.
Slumped: Assumed to mean a cow with bad posture but actually refers to a cow that has aborted her calf for some reason and causes a rancher to worry if more cows will do the same.
Pair: In ranch country, a pair doesn't have to do with socks, aces, or if you're a bad speller trying to reference the skinning of fruit. A pair is a cow and her calf.
She cleaned/hasn't cleaned yet: Cows aren't into doing any cleaning; in fact, most cows will drop cleaning all together. Natives refer to cleaned or not cleaned to mean whether or not a cow has dropped her placenta after calving, and it reflects a cow's health.
Makin' bag/bagged up: Cows don't bother with handbags or make them, but will show signs that they'll be calving soon by suddenly appearing udderly voluptuous due to their milk coming in prior to calving.
Sucked: Not the most eloquent word in the language, but nonetheless a status that's vital to a new calf's survival; abbreviation of the word "suckle," which describes whether or not a calf has sucked its mother's teat shortly after birth.
Can cause concern when calves haven't sucked yet.
Vet: An abbreviation for a professional that most ranchers avoid using as much as possible due to the cost of their services, unless a ranch's income exceeds that of a normal operation.
5, 6, or 7 weights: Not in reference to the number of weights a calf can lift, but an abbreviated way of referring to calves that have been sorted by weight weighing 500, 600 or 700 pounds.
In conclusion, the language of ranching isn't hard to understand, if you catch my meaning.
Amy and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.