A Cowgirl’s Night Out, by Avalanche Lily

On a moonless night, a few nights ago, I was concerned about the safety of our newborn calf, so I decided to camp out with our cows and horses.  In doing so, I learned a few things about both livestock behavior and my night vision.

To begin, this past Friday morning, I went out to feed the animals and saw that my Matriarch cow had not shown up.  I called and called and called her.  I heard her mooing at a low volume.  I went looking for her and found her on the edge of the woods next to the driveway with a newborn calf, just barely standing and very wobbly.  I watched a few moments until, it nursed.  To see the rest of this part of the story please go back and read, “The Editor’s Prepping Progress” column, for last week.

I made two attempts on Friday to get mama and babe into the corrals for safety from predators and easy access for de-horning in a few days, but was unsuccessful.  So I decided to spend the night out with them to add to the protection level.

So about ten o’clock on Friday evening I began to prepare to go outside. I wasn’t sure if I’d spend the whole night out with them or just a few hours.  I was a little bit nervous about it. The temperature was about 34 degrees Fahrenheit and was expected to get down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit with about two inches of snow on the ground in the open areas and only a trace under the trees.  I wore my LL Bean flannel lined jeans, a pair of socks, Bogger’s garden shoes, cotton-t-shirt, Cashmere sweater, Aran Irish wool sweater, my light puffy down jacket, fleece-lined hat and mittens.  I brought my inflatable sleeping pad, my ancient LL Bean qualophill 20 degree sleeping bag (that washes very easily), a big MagLite flashlight, water bottle, and my .45 Glock Model 30.

I walked out of the house.  The air felt very warm outside and comfortable.  Well, I will say that I am a very warm person these days.  It was very dark!  I turned on the flashlight and walked across the parking lot over to the hen house where I met C, one of our horses standing guard over the parking lot which commands an excellent view of the driveway, river and meadows from which she a could see anything that would approach the “nursery area”  from those directions.  I greeted her with a kiss on her nose and a rub on her chest and neck, and asked how her sentinel duties were faring? I then proceeded to walk on one of our access roads through our woods to the actual “Nursery”.  The area L., the mama cow, chose is very thick with large cedars, Grand firs, spruce, and pines and their saplings underneath.  It is situated along one of our fence lines. Mama cow and baby were located about forty feet west of the nest that I had made earlier in the day with straw.

About half way between the nest area and Mama’s location, I located a tight copse area surrounded with saplings that I could put my inflatable pad into and sleeping bag where I would be safe from being trampled, yet, I could still see and be near all of the animals.  I proceeded to set up my camp area.  Mama and baby watched me.  At that time the other cows were still in the corral areas eating up the last of their dinners. I had brought mama her dinner earlier in the evening.  Baby was jumping and prancing around making mama nervous, she was constantly mooing at the calf with that low moo mama cows make for their babies to warn them to stay close.  When the pad was inflated, I slipped it into the copse area, (there was almost no snow under the trees) and opened my sleeping bag, spread it out on the pad and jumped on it and folded it over me like a blanket/quilt.  I left my Boggers garden shoes on and had them hang out of the bottom of the sleeping bag.  I wanted to be ready for anything.

Then, when I was comfortable, I shut off the light.  It was black, black, black. I hung on tight to that flashlight. I laid there quietly waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness.  My heart had picked up it’s pace, just a bit.  I began to listen to all of the noises around me.  I could hear baby prancing around, mama mooing, then I heard baby nursing, noisily.  Then I heard a twig snap near my feet.  I turned the flashlight on and there about ten feet away was Sh. the daddy/bull.  He was looking right at me.  Wow, I had hardly heard him at all.  Behind him was A. our older heifer.  A moment later, S., our super alert horse, walked by them and went over to check on Mama and baby.  She was also walking by super quietly.  I turned out the light again and just listened.  I could hear them making a few small noises as they all walked around, but I could not judge how far away they were. It was so hard to judge the distances of the noises.

I kept turning the light on and off.  At one point I heard a sound near my feet again, I turned on the light and less than three feet away, just on the other side of the saplings, baby was looking at me with Sh, right behind her, butting her gently, with mama just behind him.  I laughed and talked to her and the other livestock.  Baby was so curious.  I turned back off the light and it seemed that everyone had quieted down.  Turned the light on again to see where everybody was, Sh was laying down in the direction of my feet about thirty feet away, Mama and baby were back over in the area they had been when I first came out and I had no idea where the Heifer or horses were.  So I turned off the light, laid down and rested.

Gaining My Night Vision

All of this time, my eyes had not yet fully adjusted to the dark. And every time I turned out the light it was so black.  I prayed and thought and looked around.  I could see the branches above me silouhetted against the dark cloudy sky but not anything else.  Well, I could see, slightly, the open snowy area of the access road.  A while later,  I sensed something. I sat up and turned on the light and Sh, was less than a foot away from my head on the other side of the saplings. Again, wow, animals can approach you so quietly in the dark.  Heck if it were a predator, you’d never know until it had you, was what I was thinking…  I reached out and gave him a scratch on his poll and ears and nose. He has the largest friendliest eyes, full of understanding of who I am to them, at least for for a bull. Then he moved away.  I turned the light off again and just sat there listening and sensing the dark.  I turned on the light again and A. (the older heifer)’s nose was less than three inches away from my nose!!!!!  Wow, again. We touched noses in greeting and then she moved off.  They both left the area.  I panned the flashlight around and mama and baby also had left the area. Hey, they left me!  I was abandoned!!  I laid there for a few more minutes.  As I laid there the clouds moved away and the stars came out!  Suddenly, I could see quite well all around me.  I pulled the sleeping bag around me and just looked up at the sky.  It was so nice.  Now that my eyes had adjusted and there was more light, I felt much more comfortable.

Actually very near to this copse area is the area of the property that serves as my prayer closet during more moderate weather conditions.   It is a comfort zone of mine which helped enhance this now more comfortable feeling.  I laid there for awhile looking at the sky and branches, contemplating.  Suddenly I saw small flashes of light/flickerings in the tree branches above me.  I looked around. It wasn’t coming from the very few vehicles on the distant county road.  I noticed a very bright light up in the sky to the east.  I stared at it and it was flickering.  It was fairly large.  I thought it was a jet.  I stared long and hard at it and it did not move.  As I continued staring it flashed and flickered more, reflected off the branches and it was coming from that planet.  Wow!  That impressed me. The albedo of that planet way out in space would give off enough light to cause little flashes around me.

Then I saw another light near the fence-line.  By this point, I had lost my nervousness and worry.  I could by then see very well, and I am quite familiar with the layout of our land.  I was in my own element, even outside at 11:30 at night. I jumped up and walked over to the fence line and discovered that some of our T-posts had gray silver paint tips and were reflecting that starlight. How cool.  I decided to do a quick chore and return the mama cow’s empty water bucket back to the barn.  On the way, I saw our horse S. at the juncture of the access road and driveway.  I greeted her with a kiss on the nose and a neck rub and asked her how her sentinel duties were faring. Then I saw all of the cows in the little patch of woods near the Main garden, mom and baby included.  Since that is a very safe place for everyone to be, I dropped off the bucket at the barn, where C. the horse was picking and eating the last of their dinner’s hay, and went back to the copse area.

At this point the whole sky had opened up.  We have no light pollution here, whatsoever, the stars and Milky Way here are absolutely gorgeous on moonless nights.  So I pulled my sleeping pad and bag, flashlight, water bottle out of the copse and brought them to the open area fairly close to the prayer closet area and laid them out to watch the stars.  I zipped up my sleeping bag, kicked off my Boggers and crawled inside and tried to warm up my damp and now cold feet. I watched the stars for quite awhile.  I saw some meteors, and recognized some constellations. I closed my eyes, but didn’t want to sleep.  Just because, ya never know… what will creep up while one is sleeping… even if you can see all around you.  I felt too exposed to sleep.  After about a half hour, my feet were not warming up.  My stomach growled. I also needed the use the loo.  But I wanted to stay outside all night. Because it was just so beautiful.

I decided to go into the house to get my tent, put on long johns, put on dry socks and double them, add a turtleneck to the other layers, and get a second sleeping bag, my 20 degree Mummy bag, to double it with my 20 degree LL Bean bag, eat, and go back out.  So I did that.

As I passed by the area where the animals were now loafing, both horses were now present and had set up stations for watching, the cows were very close to Mama and baby.  Baby was prancing around again.  At this point, I was not worried about the baby freezing to death or being bothered by predators.  The heifer calf was extremely active and was nursing very frequently, which are excellent signs of strength and vigor and are behaviors of keeping oneself warm during a cold night. The animals were situated with the 8 foot garden fence and house on one side of them, the driveway on one side and the parking lot on the other side,  An excellent little Redoubt spot to be in.

I set up my two-man tent in the living room and brought it outside to the parking lot, which is a very wide open area for star gazing and is also close to the area where the cows and horses were loafing. The tent has a mosquito screen ceiling so one can star gaze from inside it. I set up the sleeping pad and put the Mummy bag inside of the ancient LL Bean bag, brought out a rolled up blanket throw and a polar tech fleece sweater to use as a pillow, water bottle, flashlight, and holstered Glock.  I pulled off my winter barn boots and crawled into the two bags, pulled my hat down over my ears, put on my mittens and snuggled in.  In a few minutes I warmed up nicely.  It was super soft, comfortable, and warm. “Super coze”, as Jim likes to say.

I looked up at the stars and reveled in their beauty and in the fresh crisp air and was tickled to know that I was was super warm sleeping outside on December 27 in the winter.   And it was super beautiful out.  It was 1:00 AM when I went back outside. I fell fully asleep about 20 minutes later and I woke up about 7:30 AM.


I didn’t wake up once during those hours, which shows how comfortable and secure I felt and I wasn’t cold at all. As soon as I woke up, I got out of the bag and thought I would be cold, but, I wasn’t.  As soon as my puffy jacket that I slept in, puffed out, it trapped all of my heat and I felt fine. I slipped on my winter barn boots. I checked the temperature and it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit.  I immediately went to look on the cows and horses.  They were right where I had seen them last, before I went to sleep.  I carried out the morning hay ration to all of them, under those trees.  Baby was in the middle of nursing.  After everyone had their hay, I filled a 5 gallon bucket full of water and brought it to mama. She drank it down immediately, so I brought her a refill. And she drank some more.

Then I fed and watered the chickens, refilled the water tanks, and cleaned out the stalls, laid down fresh straw, refilled the water tank in the corral.  This was in preparation for the cows to occupy the barn.

All day Saturday, Mama and baby spent time in the woods near the garden.  In the afternoon, they went back to the copse area where they had been the previous evening.  Then, that evening, when I went out to feed everyone again, mama and baby were in the loafing area, which is just before the gate to the corral. Mama was eating up hay from an earlier meal.  This excited me because she was so close to to the corral and stalls where I wanted to put them.  So I tossed everyone some hay.  I then remembered that I hadn’t closed the back gate to the corrals, I wasn’t sure if I could get them to enter the corrals through that gate and so had thus left it open. But now, I was sure I could get mama to go in the other gate. So I went around the barn to the other side to close the back one.  It was stuck in some snow, I tugged it and it made this horrible screeching sound.  I closed and chained it and then walked back around the barn.

When I came around the barn, I counted noses. Mama, baby and S. (our Super-alert horse), were gone.  I looked for them, but they had bolted. We have a lot of other woods around the ranch that they can go hide in, if they so choose. So I assumed that the screeching noise from the closing the gate scared Mama and when she took off baby followed close behind.   S. wasn’t going to let them out of her sight and went with them, even to the point of sacrificing of her own dinner.  Thank you S., for keeping that baby heifer safe.

So, knowing that Mama and baby were in safe hands with S, C., Sh., and A.  I went to bed in our own bed that night.

The next morning, when I went out to feed them, mama and baby were not in my sight, but I decided to feed everyone else inside the corral.  I tossed in all of the hay, one by one the others went in. Then I saw that mama and baby returned. The Mama saw where the hay was and where the other cows had gone and walked right in to the corrals.  I quickly and quietly went and closed the gate and had all of the cows where I wanted them.  The horses were distracted by hay that I had put down outside of the corrals and so they didn’t go in.

Now I am closing the cows in the stalls at night, so that they have extra warmth and shelter.  I let them out every morning to feed them.  In a few more days, I’ll be able to de-horn the baby. We still haven’t named her.


  1. Loved, loved, loved your story. What a gift from the Lord of such a beautiful night time experience with His creatures and creation. You were truly blessed. I wish I could give treats to all your animals!

  2. Great story that I can relate to. I live in the northeastern California woods in the northern Sierra range and I know of the darkness you speak of. It is truly haunting, but beautiful like you say. I often spend time in the cold of winter night, praying and meditating and communing with God’s creation. I love sharing the night at the edge of the pasture with my horses and all the ranch cows. Since I have a well trained stock dog (Border collie – the most intelligent, loyal creature a man could hope for) I never worry about wildlife catching me at unawares. He is always by my side and never barks unless I send him on a stubborn cow or bull. I am always amazed at how good night vision can get with a good long time adjusting in the darkest of night. Any light really does ruin it for a long time – not just minutes. I haven’t tried the red light that supposedly preserves night vision. And it is a joyful feeling to have all the other senses become heightened. I do some high country packing with stock and my defense against cold feet is to try to never let them get cold in the first place. A pair of thin merino wool sock liners with medium weight wool oversock inside the sleeping bag does the trick. And keeping my head, face and neck warm helps keep my hands and feet warm.
    These are the best camp shoes I have found: https://www.xtratuf.com/collections/men/products/mens-6-in-insulated-elite-legacy-ankle-boot-copper-tan . (no affiliation with them). I keep them inside my sleeping bag at night so they stay warm and dry and I know exactly where they are in an emergency. I keep a S&W .357 revolver in a cross draw rig because it’s comfortable easy to access on horseback. It’s holstered under my pillow at night. If I’m travelling alone and light I often just take a thermos of soup and coffee and a sandwich and dry high calorie food that doesn’t need cooking. I find that for just overnight trips I don’t need much food, so it’s not worth the time and weight of cooking with all the gear that entails. I guess I’m on a tangent now, but your good story got me going…
    I have often thought of relocating to the redoubt if I wasn’t already attached to a beautiful ranch here, where I work part time. It’s probably just a matter of time before the crazies drive me completely out of this state. But for now I will stay and hold my ground.

  3. One tip for night vision (aren’t the stars spectacular here?): Red glasses.
    It is blue light that zaps your night vision and it can take 30 minutes for it to fully recover.
    “Laser visibility glasses” are deep red – you can’t even see some green LED traffic lights so they aren’t for driving – and will preserve your vision. You can also use red lightbulbs though I don’t know if there is a red flashlight. At home I have several bright red bulbs (careful, some are filtered-white and lead blue) so I can even read and do things that don’t require color and my night vision stays intact, as well as it is supposed to be good for sleeping since a part of your brain senses blue light to wake you up.

    You can even do yellow and green, but some green is close enough to blue to damage night vision, and yellow and green appear brighter and give you some color sense. I haven’t found a full blue-blocker glasses that let me see more colors but keep my night vision but I’m sure they exist.

  4. Loved the story. Reminded me of my early life growing up on a small farm in the Redoubt area. We didn’t raise cows but dairy goats. Many of the same experiences with night sky and animal watching. You put me back over 40 years. Keep up the good work and write more of these experiences – I am getting younger mentally just enjoying the tale.

  5. We had set routines to establish and maintain night vision when I was in the Navy. It is dark out on the ocean at night and night vision adaption and discipline is essential for safety.

    At least 30 minutes prior (preferably significantly more) to needing night vision you wear red goggles. Any flashlights used have red filters. All other lights are avoided to the maximum extent possible. Standard flashlights, lights, fires, etc. ruin your night vision rapidly and it requires significant time to regain full night vision.

    Night vision uses different sensors within the eyes than day vision. One byproduct of this is that your best vision in the dark is not necessarily directly in front of you. For instance to view a faint star or light, you can often focus slightly to one side of it and actually see it better than if focusing directly at it. This is a trick an amateur astronomer friend showed me and it is quite effective but I find it requires practice to actually use effectively. It is not natural for me.

    Another feature of night vision is that it is more sensitive to movement than to static objects. I guess all vision really is but night vision more so. So you may see something when it is moving and it may effectively disappear when it is motionless.

    Night vision is almost another sense in a way and requires practice to take advantage of it. When FULLY adapted it is kind of fun how much you can see if you do not break light discipline. As you get older and start to develop cataracts and other issues (which virtually everyone does to at least a slight degree even if they never require surgery) your night vision deteriorates so young people typically have an advantage. Maybe an older person after cataract surgery would regain some of that advantage? I don’t know.

  6. A hundred years ago one could find ladies with enough fortitude to do this, now there is one. lol. Seriously, I have done the same with our sheep and cattle at lambing/calving. Spending the night in the barn can be very revealing at how one can adjust to doing without the comfort of a warm house. The critters know that you care about them. You know when the bull is close when you are on your knees and can feel his warm breath on the back of your neck, been there! Good story for sure.

  7. Buy an eye patch from Walmart for $2. Wear it over your eye even before nightfall. Only take it off in darkness. If there is an ambient light keep the patch on. If you turn on your flashlight put the patch on first. You will be amazed at the increase in night vision in that one eye. Another hint for “incredible” night vision is to wear the patch for 3-4 days. Make sure there is no light leaking to that eye. It will turn “pitch black”
    into visibility.

  8. Mrs. Rawles, what a wonderful story! Many years ago, while on a week-long backpacking trip from Mineral King to Giant Forest, we slept under the stars our last night instead of pitching the tents. I woke up in the middle of the night, looked up, and saw three deer grazing around my head. The first thing I thought of was how sharp their hooves might be if I startled them and they trampled me. So I laid completely still and watched. They continued grazing and slowly moved away. What fun. Yes, the animals are quite stealthy. On separate winter backpacking trip to Dry Lake on the flanks of Mount San Gorgonio, my friend and I were in our tent and heard multiple loud cracks ring through the air. My first thought was that they might be shots fired. We came to the conclusion that the reports were the ice cracking on the frozen surface of the lake. It was a clear night with a full moon and the ground was completely covered in show, so the night was almost like day. I need to escape the city and move to the Redoubt. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. Dear Jim,

      Yes, That is very cool to have the deer right around you, AND listening to ice cracking, shifting and making their subterranean sounds is extra cool. I have ice skated on newly frozen lakes, when the ice was four inches thick and still “pliable”. When tired, we would lie on the ice and listen to the subterranean sounds and feel the ice shifting from the water movement underneath the ice. So cool. Have any of you ever sent a rock across newly frozen ice? That action makes one of the coolest sounds nature can give to us. One can hardly describe it…

      I am hoping for a lot of snow, soon, and a clear full moon night to go night cross country skiing. Just waiting for the right conditions, and hoping…..

      I went to a Girl Scout camp for a summer in the northeast when I was in High school. We slept out under the stars, just on the ground about three times a week for the whole summer. I LOVED IT! It was a time before the northeast had the tick problems, an overabundance of coyotes, and regular rabies outbreaks among coons, skunks, foxes and bats. The environment has changed a lot in the last thirty years. 🙁

      In our area, the dry rocky exposed areas have an abundance of ticks, but we don’t have them on our land, or we have very few… And there haven’t been reports of rabies in our region in a very long time. May it remain so!!!!



  9. If the cow has significant maternal instincts left this can be quite hazardous. Some cows will just let you do this. Others will try to kill you.

    In the years I did dairy work I did this slightly more than daily with about a 450 cow herd. Amongst the Holsteins I use to work with, you could carry off the calf about 90% of the time with just some bellowing. The other 10% you would have to have a partner to distract the cow while you rushed in and got the calf and then ran with it as fast as you could to get over/under/through a fence before the cow saw what was going on and attempted to trample you. With beef breeds I think the percentage would be higher for a strong maternal reaction.

    In a remote area, without adult help, I think Lily did the right thing just being patient. I would call it good risk management. She may have had a shot at getting away with it but the consequences of failure and serious injury in that situation outweighed the benefit IMO.

    1. Dear JBH,

      Yes, I would have needed about four adult persons to help me get that calf and to keep mama away. And I really didn’t want to stress mama out. As it is, Miss Eloise and I, would like to have a third person to help hold the calf down to de-horn it. Miss Violet isn’t into this kind of work. So I am not too sure that I will be de-horning her??? Anyhow, I don’t like being rough and having a “rodeo scene” with the animals. So I will see what we will be doing about this, soon. Jim doesn’t get back home until after the window of opportunity has passed…. 🙁



      1. Dehorning was always my least favorite part of working with cattle. Branding, vaccinating, etc. never bothered be at all but burning or cutting their heads always was a little tough.

        You might consider tying her feet. You and Miss Eloise could maybe do that especially if you tied front and back separately and then tied each end to a post or something else stout? Kind of like what you end up with after duel calf roping. If you have the two ropes ready with loops that will just cinch up, should not be too hard. Then you can let the ropes do some of the work holding the overall body stretched out while you two are trying to hold the head still. And maybe Miss Violet would be willing to give a hand with tying her up, if it is the actual dehorning she dislikes. Just a thought.

        You can dehorn fairly safely with a certain type of shear later but it is a bloody, painful process chopping out the nub. (I assume you are using an iron?) As I recall, the times I have done it I would end up throwing away my shirt after doing just a few calves. Did not enjoy that operation.

        1. Dear JBH,

          De-horning and castrating are not nice things to have to do to the babies. It causes them to lose their trust in you and then it takes a good year to build it back. 🙁 Sometimes! It makes mama not happy either.

          We, use a chemical process, the de-horning paste, which is a very alkaline base. We shave the area of the un-emerged horn, just a very small circle around the horn. Then we apply with a large popsicle stick just a little bit of the paste. A little will go a very long way. Then, very quickly, before they start to feel the burning, we apply duct tape over the horn buds and tape it around their chins. This is so that they do not rub the base near their eyes, it will burn away, eyelids and other tissues nearby, if it gets spread. We don’t want Mama to lick it and burn her tongue. We leave the tape on for 6-12 hours. Then remove it. The base eats away the nerve tissue and veins around the horn bud, effectively killing it’s growth ability. The calf feels miserable for about three hours. It staggers around, shaking it’s head, in pain. When it realizes it cannot get away from the pain, it lies down in defeat and misery. 🙁 I feel soooo bad about it… I have done about 8 calves now. But it’s safer than de-horning by cutting and using a horn burner. The horn burner is awful, too. De-horning and castrating are an ugly business, but must be done for the safety of the humans that will want them as part of their “ranch family”.



          1. What is the name of the paste? Can you use it on goats?

            I have a few goats these days and I hate dehorning so much that my last few kids have horns because I procrastinate about using the iron. With goats, because the skull is so small, the iron can actually damage a goat’s brain if you leave it on too long.

            Not sure I actually don’t prefer to leave the horns on goats but I would like to have another option as well.

          2. JBH,

            I wouldn’t use it on the goats, for the very reason, you mentioned, of their skulls being so small. We had a problem of the paste leaking down too far once on a goat and damaged it’s eyelid. 🙁 It was awful. I think it’s too risky for goats. Goats are very tough to de-horn in my opinion. We lost a baby, too, from the stress of the de-horning process, using the hot iron, once, when Miss Eloise was in the goat business. 🙁

  10. I love this story! It seems to tell of so much harmony…like every creature knew their role and how to best live it. I know nothing of raising animals, but your writing style did a good job of telling what is necessary at times…you and your animals are very fortunate to have each other!

  11. Just in case you are interested the Torah does actually forbid mutilation which includes de- horning. I say this only to say that it’s interesting to think of the Torah as an ethical guide to Gods ideal will with regard to how we treat animals. There is no other communication from God on this subject and all scripture is profitable.

    1. Hmmmmmm?!!!! I will have to look into this. Is it commanded for all animals, or only the animals being used as sacrificial animals? Is it Biblical or Rabbinic?

  12. DEAR LILY ,,,,,I have run cattle for better than 35years ,your story made my blood run cold ,IF you would have had a predator attack you most likely be hurt or dead ,in the confusion of such cows would not have recognised or know you were there ,especially being in a sleeping bag and you would not have been able to protect your self ,think about a cow stepping on you ,on your throat?or belly ,or your rib cage any of which would be crushed ,with Jim not home to find you ,you would have been dead by morning,,
    I have helped clean up what was left of a neighbor that was giving shots to a calf ,it looked to me that every bone in what was left of his body was broken ,the cow was tame use to people ,
    I will chalk your experience up to beginers luck,
    We want to keep you around ,stay safe ,you were lucky

    1. Dear Oldhomesteader,

      Ayup, sadly, stuff happens.

      It’s called prayer, praying Psalm 91 over ourselves and our family members daily, multiple times when out in possible harm’s way. It’s asking Jesus to watch over us on a moment by moment basis. At any given moment, my life is in His hands. He controls whether I live or die and when that will happen. It’s called situational awareness, and being alert and ready to jump at any moment. I was only covered, not in the sleeping bag, when the animals were near me. I never had the intention of actually sleeping out there in the open, only to be with them for part of the night while being awake. I am not a person who easily falls asleep unless I am very safe in my own bed. It’s a trait of a vigilant woman/mother. I turned on the light every few seconds until clouds left. The calf is only about 40 pounds. I am not planning on tackling a 100 pounder, ever. Cows are always put in crush stall for any work being done on them. I’m sorry I made your blood run cold. I believe that Jesus has a hedge of protection around our ranch and is hiding us under His wings to serve His purpose for our lives until the day He calls us home. But we have to ask for his protection daily and trust and be ever vigilant and not test his boundaries.

      May you be blessed,


    2. Thankfully I have a wife who is confident, competent, and well-armed. She also has a great rapport with our livestock. I’d be much more worried about her safety if she were out at night alone in the Dirty Big City. There, the predators are two-legged, and wildly unpredictable.

  13. Avalanche Lily,

    Just a note about night vision. I taught a class on ALT (available light training)….it is always frustrating to my grand kids when we play hide and seek in the dark. I can locate them, most of the time, and they never see me coming.

    I can’t talk for current military training but I was under the impression that most military trained individuals,,,ground troops anyway,,,,knew about red lenses. The old boy scout flashlights came with a set of red lenses also. The comment of the eye patch is very important. If you need to have night vision always keep your primary eye covered. Every time you turned on your flashlight you just blasted you night vision. The same thing happens when you are driving at night, try to look at the right side of the road when facing on coming traffic.

    If you practice looking slightly off target at night you will get to the point you can frustrate your grand kids too.

  14. Quick note about warm feet … I used to ski quite a bit and got used to ” toe heating pads ” for in my ski boots. In fact, now that I am in my mid 70’s I will regularly use them if I am intending to stay outside for some time here in the northeast. They are slim and do the job for a good 6 hrs. Might be something you want to try ” next time “.

    If only the animals could talk – they must be conversing among themselves … ” Why did Jim throw her out ? ” Ha !

    You have started my 2020 with a great reflective of God’s handiwork !

  15. I have a headlamp that also has a green bulb for night vision. Works great when we’re looking through the telescope, using a chart to see constellations and not wrecking our night vision. Might help.

  16. Great story but the description of your clothes I knew you would be inside before too long(cold feet too heavy on top). You made me cringe every time with the flashlight. Was like a city kid who never used night vision and had to have the flashlight taken away(light discipline). Don’t know about cows but I know what a bear is like just inches from my head.

    1. VT,

      I am sorry that you were cringing, but I chose to wear these clothes on purpose, so that I would be uncomfortable, to remain alert and awake, until I decided what I was going to do. I mostly wanted to see how the baby was behaving and how the other animals were behaving concerning the baby. I was close to the house, to go get dressed better, if I decided to stay outside which I did decide, to do, later. I know very well how to dress for being outside, if I was going to be out and not near our home…. I will write more on this and the flashlight business for Saturday.



  17. We have a neighbor who has such a great rapport with his horses that one of those horses once came to his window and whinnied in such earnest that he knew something was wrong. He grabbed his rifle and followed his horse, only to find a mountain lion stalking the livestock!

    Having a great relationship with your livestock is invaluable. Also, certain breeds of cows (Dexters, Scottish Highlands) are simply far more docile and easier to manage than other breeds are. You have most likely wisely chosen breeds that are more docile and better suited to your homesteading lifestyle versus what one would find in large scale commercial cattle operations.

  18. Grits In Montana,

    I like that story of the man and his horse. Yep, I would hope my animals would do the same. 🙂

    Yes we do have a gentle small breed of cows and a very small operation. We are just a small homesteading family. Our animals are for our own private use. We do not sell them or their meat. Our animals are not income producers, by our choice. The Blog, advertising, guns, and consulting, are our main work.



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