(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.”
I’ve got the baby in the high chair feeding him his second lunch when the phone rings.
“Hey, uh, can you come out here for a minute?”
It was Mike and it seems a fair amount of stories start this way on the farm. So I moved Boy 2 to his play seat so he won’t get into anything while I’m out, throw my boots on, grab some gloves and run out the door.
The morning was off to a great start, in fact if I didn’t know better I would have thought we were trying to make it to church on a Sunday morning ending up late as usual. This morning, however, we were off to Cavalier, North Dakota. We made it to the end of the driveway when the first spider dropped from the roof right in front of my face. I screamed, threw the mail that I had just pulled from the box and almost caused Mike to hit the ditch. I had no idea where the spider went and from that point on was on edge to say the very least. About a mile down the road a huge spider dropped by Mike. Again I screamed and reached for the door causing Mike to swerve a bit. He got that one. Along came spider number three a few miles past that. It was another big one, it got the same reaction from me and it went missing. We stopped at the only gas station on the way and Mike searched it out and took care of him. “One more spider and I’m going to walk” I said. We were a few minutes late out the door to begin with but nothing that we couldn’t make up, after the attack of the spiders we were late. Cyril and Scout made it do daycare in time for breakfast and we were finally on our way. Almost. We had to stop at my parents and pick up my dad’s truck and a friends trailer. With Emerson in his baby carrier strapped in the back seat, we were on our way.
Its official, I have to start wearing pants to the barn in the morning. I held out as long as I could. The time has come where my short summer night gown and long, fuzzy bathrobe is no match for the sub-zero temps and biting wind. Winter is once again here and my feelings for morning chores haven’t changed; they’re still my favorite. A bonus this winter is I’m not too pregnant for coveralls to fit!
The new hayloft gives some extra insulation over the cow pen despite the barn walls that are quite drafty. In fact after a good west wind everything has a heavy dusting of snow because the barn boards have weathered so much over the years. On the extra cold mornings the refuge of the barn is welcomed, as it’s always a few degrees warmer in there. When the mornings are warmed up to -15 in the barn pants are a good idea.