(sigh) Two weeks. Two weeks of not tying or walking the cow. That was all it took for Sweet Caroline to no longer allow me to walk up to her in the pasture and put the halter on her. In fact this morning I couldn’t even put the lead rope around her neck like I used to do when she was unsettled to keep her standing nicely so I could then halter her.
The first week was my own fault. I didn’t get out there to work with her like I should have. The flu came to our house and I just didn’t make time to walk the cow too. The second week I am going to blame on G.W. the bull. We had a little go-‘round one morning when I went out there. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been but it left me with a sore back for a few days. After that we moved to a temporary three pen system.
I made this toast for the first time last weekend. When I told Mike what it was his reaction was just what I expected.
“I know they called me Jasper Raisin Toast when I was little but I don’t think I actually like raisins in my toast.”
No surprise, most of my new recipes are met with this kind of excitement. It almost never goes to waste either. This was no exception. We prefer it toasted with extra butter and maybe a little bit of honey.
I love working with our cows. I say it all the time and yet, when I’m out there with them it’s 50/50 if I’m happily working or angry and cursing. Even on the days I’m jumping the gate to get out of the pen I go to bed thinking “What a good day!”
Today was one of those days. I was able to be home a few hours longer this morning and decided I was going to go out and take Caroline for a walk. It has been a few days and I don’t want her to get out of practice. With the baby down for a nap, the other two and I headed out. Both were instructed they were not allowed in the pen. They could watch through the fence or go play. I should have known better and just told them they had to go play.
I had a few alfalfa cubes in my pocket, a lead rope and the rope halter. The little boy was on my heels with a million questions that I answer the best I can. When “I don’t know” or “Just because” are the only answers left I start with “because that’s how God wanted it”. By the time we got to the gate we were on the edge of what God thought was best.
Mike has Lucy and Wheezy in their own pen, eagerly awaiting calves. The rest are in the corral. I unhooked the gate and wandered in. Immediately Caroline headed my direction… along with last year’s calves and G.W. the bull. I didn’t bother with treats because there was no way I could just give one to Caroline, instead I just started to try and put the lead rope around her neck. Once she’s got a rope on it’s pretty easy to lead her out and put the halter on. I never got that far.
G.W. was being even pushier than his usual self, which by the way, has been getting worse. Right away he started with the head rubbing. He lowers his head and rubs it on my side or leg. For a little cow he’s got plenty of push behind him. It wasn’t too long before he had me pushed down the fence line and away from the gate. At this point I was frustrated. I have learned to not push him back or it turns to a game and he just uses more muscle.
Face to face we started to circle the pen, my thought was to circle around so I could jump the gate. Both a blessing and sometimes a curse that the little boy cannot yet open the gates. Well we didn’t make it that far before there was a break in the pressure. He let up and had a short running, kicking fit.
Imagine a rodeo bull with no ropes or rider.
It was enough to give me a chance to break for the gate. I wasn’t about to tangle with the 4 strands of barbed wire, just get to the gate. I wasn’t close enough before he was back and my next step landed me flat on my back.
(Insert loud curse word)
I was past frustrated by this point. I was pissed. My life didn’t flash before my eyes, instead it was “shit! Get off the ground you’re pregnant!” From the ground to my feet I’m not totally sure how it went but I remember seeing for dancing brown hooves and then climbing the gate… where I was met with question one million and one.
I stormed back to the barn and put the ropes away, then called Mike.
“We need to stop giving G.W. any attention. He had me flat on my back just now and I can’t work with Caroline when he’s there. He can be comfortable with us being out there without acting like an overgrown dog. I tried throwing some hay to distract him but then she ate too and I couldn’t get to her without him noticing.”
I think he could tell by the tone in my voice that I was pissed. G.W. wasn’t on his way to hamburger, but he was on my list.
“Well maybe you should stay out for now. You don’t need to get hurt. We will figure something out for him.”
“I don’t want her to get wild on me because I can’t keep working with her for a while. I started over a few times with Lucy. I’d rather not do that again.”
“We’ll figure something out.”
With that I went and helped the kids fill a wagon with tiny pine cones. I don’t know what they wanted them for but it was good busy work for all of us.
Later Mike called suggesting we put up a temporary pen for G.W. so that I can work with Caroline without any trouble. After some discussing we changed that to a pen for Caroline. Keep the bull behind four strand of barbed wire and two electric ones.
We swapped work for kids at noon. By three Mike sent a text “Caroline’s pen is ready for her to move in.”
I thought the ducks were fun before, now it’s spring and they are even more entertaining. They are always keeping us guessing. To us they have a pen, they are to share with the goats. It worked well all winter long. Last fall I put chicken wire around the whole pen to keep them in. That worked well until Mike moved a panel so Hank could have access to the barn for winter. The chicken wire had to be removed from that panel and was never replaced. The ducks found their way out. It worked out fine actually. They had been in the goat pen long enough to know that that was home. They would go for a walk and be back again.
My concern with letting them wander about is that they would meet the same demise as any loose chicken, guinea keet, or turkey… Death by dog.
I don’t know what your two year old was doing at 6 in the morning, but mine was insisting that she go out and feed the “aminals”.
So out we went.
I really enjoy having the quiet early morning barn time to myself but I really want to continue to encourage the kids to work with the animals and like doing chores. I expect them to help around the farm, they start with easy chores- feeding the dogs, putting silverware on the table and such. They are encouraged to come with to collect eggs and be around when we feed the large animals. There is very little coaxing needed when it comes to the animals. It’s usually harder to keep them out of the pen than anything else.