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.
Boy 1 is standing outside the barn directing me there. Upon entering Little Miss is standing on the stock tank hollering “Sweet Care-wa-wine” in her shrill little girl voice. Mike is telling her to quiet down and Boy 1 to get away from the door. There stands Sweet Caroline by the stack of hay outside the pen. She knows that spot well because that’s where I tie her in the mornings when I want her out of the pen and still need to take her for a walk around the yard. It’s where she starts her breakfast while I clean the pen or feed the rest of the herd.
“I guess I shouldn’t have left the gate open. She headed right over to the bag of alfalfa cubes.”
I grabbed her halter with the intention of putting it on her like I’ve done so many times before. This time she made a run for the door. She was wound up, I assume from the kids and Mike. There was much excitement and anxiety in the barn when I arrived. Doesn’t matter why, the point is she was out.
I grabbed an extra lead rope, her rope halter and a pocket full of alfalfa cubes and headed out the door after her.
They kids reluctantly went to watch the happenings from the front porch.
Very rarely do I run to catch an out cow… Never actually. They just run faster and in the wrong direction. I wandered about the yard and managed to direct Caroline into the pig gate at the corner of the corral.
Once she was through the gate she was pretty well contained, not where she was supposed to be but within a fence at least. I circled around the barn to the north gate to make sure she wasn’t going back to the yard from that direction. In the meantime Mike had closed the pig gate and we had Caroline in the summer pasture.
I am quite particular about the pasture. The cows are only allowed out there at certain times. They are sent out late in the spring once the grass has grown at least knee high. Then they are allowed in each paddock for no more than a week at a time. This allows for long healthy pasture all the way to August. From then on the grass slows considerably and gets eaten pretty short. They are pulled from the pasture after the first hard frost to prevent and plant damage. Having Caroline take a spring run about the summer pasture isn’t going to cause and irreparable damage but the sooner she was back in the corral the better.
One other minor problem we were on the edge of having is when the corral gate opens to the summer pasture everyone is ready to run. I don’t blame them, come spring I’m ready to get out too. I don’t want to try and get the whole herd back in if we don’t have to.
After a few more tries with the halter I gave up. She was too unsettled to bother with it. Instead Mike tossed a few flakes of hay over the opposite fence and everyone gathered there. That gave Mike time to come up behind Caroline through the pig gate and push her up the hill towards me, where I opened the corral gate and shuffled her in.
By this time the kids were right back to the fence and happy to point out that through all that went on the gate in the barn, the one that was open to begin with, was still open.
Once all the gates were closed and everyone was on the correct side of the fence I ran back to the house. Little boy 2 was upset, very upset, but he was safe and that’s what counts. We rocked and he napped and all was calm on the farm again.