I don’t usually have the kids to daycare early enough in the morning to have breakfast but this particular morning we were planning to be there early. According to the schedule we received in the beginning breakfast is as 8:00 which means I try to have everyone there be at least ten to-.
We were doing great. We were right on track to get there on time. I told the older three to get their shoes on and get buckled while I got the baby in the carrier. It’s nothing new, they do it every morning. Then back came the little boy, “mama, there’s a cow in the yard!”
A quick silent prayer “Oh dear Lord, please let it be the neighbor’s cow.” We’ve never had any visiting cows wander through but it would have been fine with me this morning. I would have waved at it and left on time.
Of course it wasn’t. It was Rudy the bull calf.
I continued to get the baby in the car while trying to figure out the fastest way to get Rudy back to the pasture.
Last time he got out I left the barn door open and let him wander in. Then I closed it behind him. Mike and I were able to guide him into the pen with Caroline, undo the “fancy” gate panel, bale ring door block from earlier, shoe him out the door, through the run into the corral and then sneak him out the last gate into the pasture. That would have been a possibility except he wasn’t wandering even close to there.
The first time he got out, I chased him into the last goat pen that was still up. I fixed some fence quick there and he spent the day in there. He wasn’t near there either.
My choices for plans that have worked in the past were dwindling. He hasn’t been introduced to grain so he won’t follow a bucket. I could rope him but he’s a lot bigger than Thelma was. I stood my ground with her but I’m pretty sure he would just drag me across the yard. I could rope him, tie him to a tree while I went and got the four-wheeler, then tie him to that and guide him back to the pasture with that. I wasn’t overly confident with that plan either.
By this time the kids were buckled in the van and so I just started to walk up to Rudy to get any plan started. Down the driveway he went. Not quite what I had in mind but we were moving somewhere at least.
I ran back to the van and pulled up just beyond the barn, in line with the chicken coop. He had stopped there to eat. I can’t blame him for that. The grass there is really thick and green. I was able to walk him around the chicken coop to the back side where the coop and pasture fence make a hallway of sorts.
By some dumb luck there were a couple panels of fencing leaning up on the cow run right by the gate at the end of the “hallway”. I haphazardly leaned them up on each other to make a really unstable pen to keep Rudy semi-put if he went that far.
I called the little boy out of the van. It was obvious I was not going to get this on my own. “Here’s what I need you to do- walk around the back of the coop and make Rudy walk to me and I will open the gate and we’ll get him in. Just walk calmly and wave your arms.”
With our plan in place, he started around the coop. “Mama, I’m doing it! He’s coming right to you!” It was working perfectly until G.W., the big bull, thought he would use the open gate opportunity too. I closed the gate and Rudy stopped walking. The little boy got worried and said he was done helping.
At that point I really wanted to be the firm farmer and tell him to “get back over there and help finish the job”. On the other hand, he’s soft and if I want his help next time I know I need to let him take a break. So I bit my tongue and tried to figure out a plan F.
Back at the van I coaxed him into helping me again. Same plan but I will walk behind Rudy and he was to hold the gate. If G.W. tried to get out all he had to do was stay behind the gate where he was. The little boy was back on board to help. We tried again.
He held open the gate just a little until Rudy got close. As instructed he open the gate wider and started to freak out because Grace the donkey walked out at the same time Rudy found the one spot in the fence line without electric and squeezed through.
I’ll that finagling and the $#*! went back through the fence!
Now we had a donkey to get back in!
I’ve been reading a lot about how to train a donkey. I don’t want to screw her up. One of the things noted was that halter breaking should happen after you can lift all her hooves for inspection and farrier work. Lots of trust should be built so that once the halter is on they are much more willing to follow instead of being a stubborn donkey.
She’d had a halter on a couple times but I’d been shying away from it for now. We let her out in the yard before and to get her back in I was able to hold her in a head-lock position (not hard but that was the arm hold was similar) and scratch her behind the ears and we walked in together. That was not working this morning.
I sent the little boy to the barn to get the rope halter. We needed to get going and a Sunday stroll around the yard was… well I just didn’t have time for that.
He came running back with the rope and Grace was kind enough to let me get it situated on her. The three of us walked past the van, almost instantly putting the rest of the kids into tears because they couldn’t get out and pet her. Grace walked perfectly around the barn, across the yard, down the hill and only took a little extra nudge to get her through the pig gate and back into the pasture.
I didn’t have to look at the time to know we were late for breakfast, instead I sent off a quick text “cow and donkey got out. On our way now.” Yes, I actually sent that to our daycare lady.
I was still tensed up but slightly relived that we were on the road at least. “Okay kids, when we get there go right to the house, no screwing around. We’re late.”
As instructed the older two hopped out and headed for the house. I had the baby carrier in one arm and the toddler, sack-of-potatoes style, under the other arm. He likes to run when on the ground.
He had no shoes… well he had one, but one shoe does no good.
That was the start to my day, at which point I had the choice to sit on the front porch and cry or throw my hands up and laugh.