There was a short week where we didn’t have any morning chores. The cows were in the pasture and the goats had been sold. I’m back to morning chores now. We’ve got the steers that are scheduled for burger and Sweet Caroline in the corral and the rest of the herd in the pasture. That means filling a second stock tank and feeding hay and grain to the boys and Caroline. They all could use a little fattening.
Poor Caroline, she’s been so skinny. I’ve dewormed her a few times thinking maybe that was the problem. According to the calendar she was due to calve in a month but she was just too thin. I spoke with the vet and he came out and gave her a look-over. Diagnosis was slight pneumonia, very nutrient deficient and not pregnant. All around disappointing but fixable. His recommendation was give her some finishing grain along with her hay and some extra minerals. And ween that darn calf!!
The other girls kick their calves off when they’ve had enough. We haven’t had much of a problem getting them to ween when needed. Elwood is a few weeks short of a year. There’s no good reason he still needs milk. Sweet Caroline is living up to her name once again. She will nurse any calf that tries and will not kick Elwood off. That is draining her as well.
Long story short, I’ve been trying to keep the two separated for a good month now. It hasn’t been going well. Elwood’s head is still small enough to fit through the fences and gates. He calls from the gate and she stands there and lets him eat. We had finally been making progress when she was in with the steers.
(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 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.”
It’s been just short of two weeks ago that the cows came home. It was nice to have everyone back on the farm where they belong. The girls were bred and are due late spring. They spent their time away with my uncle’s herd of Angus. They were comparable in size to this year’s calves it seemed. So as we drove by they were easy to spot from the road. I didn’t visit them nearly as much as I should have, but one Sunday we did stop in after church. They were all on the other side of the pasture when we arrived. I stood at the fence and called for Lucy. It wasn’t too long before she wandered slowly over, Wheezy followed keeping her distance. She refused to eat from my hand as she used to but I was just happy she still came when called.
While the girls were out Elvis and G.W. settled right in. They have become so tame. I’m so glad we are not going to eat G.W.. He is so friendly, he will walk up to me in the pasture to be pet. I can get the burdock off of him without any fuss. He is so sweet. Elvis is the same. I already dread the day he has to go. That’s going to be a rough one.
Elvis took G.W. under his wing and they became good buddies. This was made more apparent when the cows came back. Wheezy’s horns look to have grown 6 inches while she was away and she has learned she likes to use them. Hers have grown much more forward instead of upward as Lucy’s are. As soon as they hopped out of the trailer they began chasing the boys around trying to establish a pecking order again.
I don’t like. Not one bit! Those boys are so sweet and they just get pushed around.
Because the girls get so territorial over the big hay feeder Mike made a couple smaller feeders in the barn. I was worried that the boy’s weren’t going to get any feed. Every time they get in the barn Wheezy runs them out. They look great! And work well. I asked for 2 more once I saw them installed, then we could remove the big feeder and give them a little more room in there.
Last night Wheezy and I had a little “get to know you”. It wasn’t a full blown “come to Jesus”, I’m hoping it doesn’t get that far, because that will end one of two ways: I come out on top and she will mind from then on out or she will take that round and when I recover she will be turned into hamburger. Lucky for both of us it didn’t go that far. I’m giving both girls the benefit of the doubt that they haven’t been home for too long and are still getting readjusted.
I went into the pen with an arm full of hay for Hank (his feeder is next to the fence most easily accessed through the cow pen). I wasn’t a few feet in the gate when Wheezy lowered her head and came towards me. It wasn’t a leap or real charge, there wasn’t enough room between us for that, but it was obvious she thought she was going to establish a Queen Bee status with me. This time she got an up close view of my boot. Right between the eyes.
She wasn’t expecting it and she backed up pretty quick, tripped on her own feet and then stood there for a minute processing what just happened. We had a bat inside the front door of the house, only because shortly after we moved in I found it marking a gopher hole in the field, brought it in and hadn’t thought to move it since. But in the last week Mike had finally moved it to the barn and it happened to be right outside the pen. I grabbed the bat, hay in hand, and told Wheezy to get out of the barn. She left, I fed Hank and went on my way.
I didn’t have to use the bat that night. I hope I never do. I don’t want to hurt any of our animals but my 115lbs up against the 700lbs of horned Wheezy, I’m going to need Jesus and a bat if she gets mad.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and my bat…” well it’s close anyway.
This morning Mike and I moved the big feeder so it’s no longer next to the outside door in hopes the boys will be able to make their way in to the other feeders on the wall. Wheezy came in and said hi. She kept her distance.
Lucy is still skittish and has kept her distance since coming home. Hopefully it won’t take too long for her to warm back up to us and Wheezy will calm down again too.
We’ve been in the market for a bull this year. After planning to A.I. (artificially inseminate) the girls, then not, and then again planning to. When we finally were able to get a hold of the vet and get the process started, I’m not sure what happened but we haven’t heard back from him in a few weeks again and have given up on that for the time being. All the while we have been looking for a bull of our own.
Everyone we talk to that uses A.I. on their cows also has a bull to take care of the ones that the A.I. didn’t take. I’m not a fan of that method to begin with and then when you add all the costs that go with it, it’s rather expensive. You go through the whole process and still have a decent chance that it won’t work and you will need a bull anyway. I don’t understand why I would go through all that when having a bull on site will do the same thing?
I’ve asked that question a few times and the answer is always the same. “You A.I. with semen from a high quality bull, and then have a lower quality bull for “clean up””.
Huh. Well that’s somethin’.
From what I figure… in my head without too many numbers… the cost for the vet, the shots to put them into heat, the straws (which depending on what bloodline you want, start at $25 and go past $100 each, and have a 5 straw minimum), figure two straws per cow-times how many cows, it can get rather pricey. Now go through all that and some don’t take. So, you either, buy or rent a bull to have the girls impregnated the old fashioned way. Wouldn’t it make more sense to just buy a quality bull right off the bat and not have to mess around with all the rest? We are already doing cow chores daily so adding another mouth over the fence isn’t that bad in the scope of things. The only hay problem we have is we either need to find someone to buy some or we need to get a few more cows to eat it (and the second cutting is getting baled tomorrow).
After some looking we found one near by, affordable and looked like a good quality animal. We were all set to pick him up and the farmer called to say we couldn’t take him because of another deal he had going and a misunderstanding with that guy. He felt really bad to have to back out. He offered us one of his bull calves instead, it was a deal. We were able to bring the girls down to my uncle’s and put them in with his bull this year.
Using a borrowed truck and trailer we packed up early that morning and headed farther into the country to a little farm not too far from ours. The farmer met us at the barn where he had this years calves penned up for easier catching. The way it sounded they were all going to be sold that day. We got first pick. Talk about cute! I was hoping for the red, horned one, Mike wanted the dun without horns. We got the dun. I named him.
G.W. McLintock. If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m not sure we can be friends… Well maybe. My grandpa was a fan of John Wayne and old western movies. That, McLintock, is one of my favorites. The little guy will have to grow into the name.
When we first were discussing getting the calf as opposed to finding another bull neither of us were too excited about the idea. After a little thought I was quite happy it worked out the way it did. He has only been “home” for a few days and he is already quite friendly. He is learning what a halter is and let me tell ya’, it is so nice to work with a critter that small.