AMY KIRK: On the ranch, spring cleaning means cow cleaningAt our place cleaning in springtime pertains to mother cows. Wearing rubber gloves is optional.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
If you have wasted any time reading this column when you could have watched mind-dumbing prime-time television programs, you have probably already concluded that our outfit is a little odd in our thinking. Now you can confirm it by learning what we consider spring cleaning.
It’s something we get used to for several months; kind of like South Dakota snow (or should I say wind instead?). From now until late May is the only time of year we see and deal with a common sign that spring has definitely arrived here: cow cleaning.
At our place cleaning in springtime pertains to mother cows. Wearing rubber gloves is optional.
For readers unaware of this ranch term it refers to the gloppy, gristly-like matter that hangs out of the back end of a cow after she’s calved and eventually drops onto the ground.
At first, the gloppy pile is slick and shiny but after it’s been drug around by barn cats or our dog or it becomes frozen after a few days, it picks up more dirt than a vacuum and loses its sheen.
Normally, the placenta will drop off anytime from shortly after a cow has calved up to a few days later and is a sign of a healthy cow. If it doesn’t, the cow gets prompt and appropriate veterinary treatment to deter infection.
As unattractive as cleaning looks on a cow, it’s never something to go tugging on to remove because doing so can do more harm than good to the cow.
To describe cow cleaning to someone who’s never seen it, don’t ask my husband. He would say that fresh cow cleaning resembles my favorite pizza topping: pepperoni, unsliced. I would have to say it resembles a slimy dishtowel and is a naturally recyclable substance only after a minimum of 10 years, according to the old cleanings we’ve found anyway.
Most cows instinctively eat their own cleaning after they’ve calved, which ranchers prefer to see because it provides good nutrients for the cow, but dogs are particularly fond of these chew toys from Mother Nature. Our dog finds and brings them to the yard to work on because the only logical place for a dog to eat placenta is in the front yard near a picture window.
These truly organic dog snacks do not come apart easily and keep our dog entertained for hours. We’ve witnessed Pepper tugging and gnawing on fresh cow cleaning until she gets so worn out she has to take a nap before resuming her snack attacking.
Canines will still find old dehydrated placenta tasty midsummer once the cleaning’s dried up like a stiff, crispy jerky rag.
Pepper and the barn cats would likely describe cow cleaning as very chewy. In order to get a good grip on a bite, its texture requires tilting their head. Cow placentas are nature’s long-lasting dog treats. Year-round our dog and barn cats find them to chew on. And hey, we’re all about reusing old stuff.
Picking up neglected wads of cleaning around the yard does spruce up the place, which is a great idea if we’re expecting company. It’s just that during calving season I have a hard time getting motivated to do anything that pertains to cleaning.
I typically don’t have much to do with it in the springtime unless I can get it to stay on the pitchfork.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.