AMY KIRK: Spotlights are the bright side of calving seasonIn order for me to shed some light on calving, I need a spotlight. The difference a spotlight can make is like night and day.
In order for me to shed some light on calving, I need a spotlight. The difference a spotlight can make is like night and day.
But not just any spotlight — it must be one that works. These gadgets have made finding calving activity at night a lot easier, unless I’m using a light that doesn’t work.
My husband prefers the spotlight that is permanently mounted on top of his small ranch pickup’s roof and is operated from the inside. As a founding member of the “Pringle Poacher Association,” (relax, it’s just Pringle humor) he is very knowledgeable about spotlighting; like how it’s warmer and easier to do from a pickup than it is from a four-wheeler and that roof mount spotlights don’t melt vinyl seats.
The roof-mount types tend to be temperamental about working whenever I use them, though. It could have something to do with the spotlight being Pringle modified: wherein the plug-in gets cut off and wires are attached to the dome light connector thingies with black electrical tape instead of being installed according to the spotlight’s instructions that we don’t have. Usually the problem has more to do with me touching them.
Since you asked, another popular Pringle modification (this one’s for handheld spotlights used in vehicles without cigarette lighters) is cutting off the plug-in and attaching the wires to the vehicle’s battery and running the cord through the side window.
This is why spotlights are never thrown away. Non-working ones can always be “parted out.” True Pringlites own several spotlights, know how to part them out, and can modify them to accommodate different power sources.
As I was saying, it’s amazing what I can see at night when I flip the switch on a spotlight that works. I’ve found that the rechargeable spotlight I use in my jeep really shines in the calving pasture and is especially beneficial to the whole purpose of getting up in the first place if it’s been charged up.
Since spotlighting is useful in checking for new calves or problems during the night, naturally, the most important thing to be looking for are ear tag numbers. When read in the dark, spotlights greatly improve the accuracy of the numbers on a cow’s ear tag. If a cow or a new calf needs to be checked on later, it’s really handy if I know which cow it is. Otherwise they’ll always make it difficult to find them again later.
When I spotlight the herd at night I also use binoculars. I need both because sometimes I have to clarify if what I’m seeing is a smallish balled-up calf or a super-sized cowpie. These hallucinations have been a problem before when sleep-deprived.
As I’ve found out, it’s a good idea to be somewhat alert if not awake when night checking with a spotlight. Being aware of what I’m doing has proven helpful in carrying out the reason for getting up at 2, 3, or 4 a.m. Arriving at the calving pasture and realizing that I don’t have the binoculars or the rechargeable spotlight can be more than a little aggravating.
As long as I remember to bring along a spotlight that works when I night check and remember to charge it up beforehand, spotlights really shed a lot of light on the subject.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices.com.