First of all, you might wonder why there were pregnant cows being butchered: Well, when farmers buy yearling calves for their feedlot operations, they don't know where those animals have been, or whether the heifers have been exposed to a bull. They often have no facilities for mother cows and calves. Their job is simply to fatten the cattle and move them on to market.
Cliff's boss at the butcher shop sold beef by the quarter and side; he bought his animals from a local farmer, fat, marbled and ready. He needed them to butcher and sell, and butcher them he did, pregnant or not.
The shop also did custom-butchering for people who raised their own cattle for beef. Sometimes Cliff would call them and say, "Did you know this heifer is about ready to calve?"
"Oh no, there's no way," they'd usually answer. "That cow hasn't been near a bull."
And Cliff would go ahead and butcher the cow, saving the calf and bringing it home if he was able. I specifically remember this being the case with Bam-Bam, because we laughed when we thought of his mother's immaculate conception.
There were two or three times when a cow would actually have her baby out in the pens where she was waiting to be slaughtered. One of those calves was a lovely big Charolais heifer. Richard, the owner of the butcher shop, called the farmer and said, "Did you know your cow was bred? She had a calf out here... do you want to come and get it?"
"It isn't my calf," answered the man. "That cow isn't bred."
Richard kept the heifer and raised her, although she never would conceive; so she ended up as meat.
As far as Cliff doing a wonderful thing by saving the babies, he did that for me; because I loved trying to save babies of any sort (I never had great success with piggies cut from their moms, by the way). We weren't doing any huge favor for the calf, since it was bound to end up as hamburger and steaks, somewhere down the line.
Cliff says that at the time we got Bam-Bam, it was not illegal to cut calves from cows in that manner, because the butcher shop was only state-inspected. Later they went to federal inspection, and that's when it became against the law to burst a placenta on the "kill floor", the theory being that those fluids could contaminate the meat.
The owner of the butcher shop, Cliff reminded me, had a whole herd of cows that had begun life on the "kill floor".
And that's "the rest of the story".