How to graft a calf
We take the calf that has been rejected by his mother, and give it to a cow who’s calf has died during birth. This works best if the live calf is only a few days old, but it often works with older claves too.
Cows identify their offspring by scent, so getting some of her dead calf scent onto the orphan calf is the most important part of grafting a calf.
If the calf is dead at birth, don’t even let the cow lick it – she doesn’t know which calf is hers till she licks it. Take it away immediately, and rub some of the birth fluids onto the live calf. Bring the live calf to her and she will probably take it immediately.
If that doesn’t work, or maybe her calf lived a few days, then you have to take stronger measures, because the cow now knows which is her calf!
So, Cliff has to do the not-fun part of cowboying, and skin a calf that has been dead for 2 days. This calf died during or shortly after birth.
First, he cuts the skin off with a skinning knife. Starting at the breastbone, he makes a cut to down the belly, then out each leg a few inches.
Next, he separates the skin from the body by pulling and cutting – keeping the skin taut as he goes. You just need the skin from the body and a bit of the legs. We will use that leg skin to tie it on to the live calf.
Meanwhile, he has tied-up this live, orphan baby by the legs, so it can’t jump off the truck and hurt it’s little self.
Cliff slipped a rope around the calf’s neck, and lead it to the barn.
- Next, He places the wet hide from the dead calf over the back of the live calf. The calf doesn’t mind.
- Then he ties it on with baling twine – always available on any ranch.
- He makes slits through the hide on each corner, and slips the twine through the holes and under the chest and belly, tying it on securely.
The idea is that if the cow smells her calf’s skin – she won’t know (or care) if it’s actually a different calf. Then the abandoned/orphaned calf can live in disguise as her own. And everyone will be happy.
Sometimes it works – and sometimes it doesn’t. Here is the mother of the dead calf.
Push the abandoned calf inside the calving pen.
The cow sniffs the calf warily, unsure what to think of this new little babe who smells kind of like her calf. This is the moment of truth! Will she accept him or not??
Success!!! Within seconds, that hungry baby went for the dinner table, and she let him. The hungry baby has a new mama, and the sad mama cow has (unwittingly) been comforted by what she thinks is her own sweet baby. And we don’t have to bottle feed this calf. 🙂 Everyone is happy.
Jim Stage says
WOW! What a picture of the gospel and our adoption by God our Father!
Before we come to Christ, our lives are dominated by sin and Satan. They have their way with us, they “own” us – so to speak. They are our masters and we are their children (John 8:44). Satan does not provide for us, he does not care for us, and we are starving – just like the calf of a cow who will not feed it. Though we are hungry, we are completely blind to how truly destitute and malnourished we are. We desperately need provision, but our masters, our father, does not provide for our needs. We are hopeless and destined to die, just like such a calf.
But wait! If a calf of another cow dies, there may be a possibility. The dead calf is skinned, and it is placed over the calf whose mother will not care for it. The calf is led to the cow whose calf has died, and she – smelling her own calf, will allow that calf (which is not her own!) to feed from her – effectively saving its life. The cow gets a new child, and the calf receives care and milk and life.
In the same way, the death of Jesus Christ opens the door for us to be taken in by God the Father. We, by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, put him on (Rom 13:14). We are covered with his righteousness and his nearness to the Father is credited to our account. Though we are not by nature children of God, we are covered with the garments of righteousness (Is 61:10). In light of this, and solely because of this – this ALONE – we are welcomed into the presence of God our (new!) Father. He accepts us as though we were his own – he sees the righteousness and purity of his son, he smells the fragrance of the purity of Jesus when he smells us. He looks at us and says yes! Come to me! You are mine, my own! You are accepted, you are welcomed, you are safe here – I will provide for your needs and protect you from harm and treat you as though you were my own…my very own child. Because now, you have in fact become my child.
All because of the sacrificial death and glorious covering provided by Jesus.
Kay Schrock says
Wow. What a great analogy! Thank you for sharing.