Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 13, 1998)
FAR LEFT: UNL ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR Chris Ibsen opens the gate to a pas
ture on one of his several late-night cattle checks. Ibsen was checking on
the UNL physiology herd.
LEFT: UNL ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR Jason Swanson helps a cow deliver a
calf late March 28. Swanson was part of a group of seven students who
worked at the UNL Cow-Calf Management Research Center during calving
season to help with calf deliveries. Calving season at the center started
about the end of February and is beginning to taper off.
BELOW: IBSEN, a UNL junior, tube feeds a calf while UNL Animal Science
Professor James Gosey holds the bottle. They were feeding the calf
because its mother didn’t want to claim the calf at first.
I /__.» ■
ABOVE: UNL ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR Blake Kuebler catches a couple of hours of sleep before having his alarm go off at mid
night, 2 a.m., 4 a.m. and 6 a.m. for cattle checks. Kuebler and the other students who work at the research center check
the cattle every few hours during the night to make sure they are not having trouble delivering their calves.
LEFT: SENIOR ANIMAL SCIENCE MAJOR Jared Walahoski picks up a calf from the snow as its mother anxiously watches.
Walahoski lifted the calf out of the wet snow so it would not get cold and possibly sick.
-_ ■ .rife A ■ -
tures as he looked for heifers showing
the tell-tale signs of birth.
They’ll separate themselves from
the herd, he said. Most of labor is
spend standing, but “when they really
get into the push of things, they’ll lie
This night, most of the cattle were
strung out across the pasture, which
made Ibsen’s task a bit more difficult
and made travel by truck an anxious
“I’d hate to run over one,” he said.
Ibsen shined the spotlight from his
driver’s side window across the rainy
Besides the running board falling
off the pickup, the night passed
Ibsen told stories about past
nights, including being near cattle in a
“smells like there’s two skunks under
your feet. I just about died.”
Then, it was back to the cow-calf
management barn and the little dank
smelling office with plain, heavy
wooden bunk beds; a coffee machine;
a long, brown Formica-topped table;
and an old television on a worn, pink,
metal medicine cabinet.
He left to feed one calf forcefully,
shoving a long tube down its throat
and into its stomach.
But mostly, he watched a small
digital clock with red, lighted letters
that sat on top of the television.
“Whatever” was usually on the
television, be it “Dateline,” “Inside
Edition” or “Seinfeld.” Just whatever
went well with a yawn, maybe some
sunflower seeds and a Diet Coke,
which Ibsen often brought.
“That clock moves pretty slow
sometimes,” Swanson said.
Once the clock moved past 2 a.m.
on a slow night, the cowboys would
move over to the bunk beds to catch a
quick nap, if they could.
It was essential for Swanson, who
would get ready for his other job at a
nearby feed lot starting at 5:30 a.m.
The last walk
But, on Swanson’s final work
night of spring break, the run-off
heifer, her abandoned newborn and
the daunting task of telling his boss
come morning was almost too much
for the college man to handle, running
on only two hours of sleep from the
About midnight, he did one more
walk through the muck of a nearby ■
pen filled with first-year mothers-to
The mud-and-dung mix was a foot
thick in some places, and a person
could easily get stuck for a few sec
onds between steps.
“Ssht, ssht, ssht,” he said, to move
the cattle slightly. He waved a long,
skinny white cane similar to what a
blind person would use on a sidewalk.
He moved down the hill, framed
by a foggy night’s deep dusty blue sky.
“All right, girls,” he announced
suddenly, with frustration. “It’s okay
with me if you want to take the night
off. Take a nap.”
Somehow, for the rest of this night,
they would obey.
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