Two days ago, we had torrential rain that lasted all day. Which was followed by hollowing winds throughout the next day and all night long. Thelma, my rickety old dog, woke me at 4am needing to go outside. As I laid awake trying to fall asleep and listening to the wind, I knew checking the fence lines would be job #1 as soon as the sun rose.
At 7:30am, after feeding the herd of heifers some grain, we jumped into the kawasaki mule to check for weather damage. As we rounded the corner of the South Field, there was an old cherry tree blown down across the path and onto the fence. The top electric wire and the woven wire fence were intact but crushed under the weight of the tree. Fixing this would definitely take a couple of hours. Before we tackled this mess, I wanted to check on the cow herd because several of the ladies were due to calve any day.
As we approached the Mountain field, I did a quick count of the ladies: 5 red angus, 1 charolais, 2 black angus, Old Lucy, 3 heifers, 3 baldies ….wait, there were only 2 baldies. Josie was missing and she had been very close to calving. We walked through the field to a small grove of trees at the far end and there was Josie, with her brand new, still wet calf. Josie herself was born on our farm and is a calm, trusting cow and a great mama. I lifted the leg of the little baby, her first heifer! The calf was just a few minutes old, Josie had work to do to get her baby dried her off and standing, so I didn’t stay too long.
On the way back to tackle the fallen tree, I looked down at the muddy path and noticed several large sets of prints – hoof prints, and they were on outside of the fence! Earlier when feeding the heifers, I was distracted thinking about potential storm damage and did not count heads. Obviously, someone had escaped through the wrecked fence.
We hurried back to the South field, and sure enough one of the Red Angus heifers, Reba, was missing. I started to panic wondering how I was going to find and return a cow who was roaming around 80 acres of woods. Then I heard mooing coming from the direction of the pond. There was Reba, standing on the other side of the fence, desperate to return to her herd! She must have watched me feed grain earlier and had a bad case of FOMO. I grabbed the empty grain bucket (it still smelled like grain – cows aren’t THAT smart) and walked to the nearest gate. By now the other heifers were milling around, interested in the unusual activity and curiously wondering why Reba was on the other side of the fence. Willow helped out by walking through the open gate, encouraging Reba to return, which she did at a trot. I was so relieved that I didn’t even remember to take any pics of the reunion.
With the heifer safely returned to the field, we went back to the fixing the fence. First, we cut up the cherry tree, saving the logs to split for firewood. I used the bucket of the tractor to hold the tree off of the wire while Bill cut it up. This fence is woven wire with a hot top line and is very resilient. Using the hooks on the tractor bucket for tension, we straightened and stretched the fence back into position and stapled it up.
With the fence fix complete, we drove the perimeter of the other fields and thankfully found no more damage. Before heading back to the house for breakfast, I stopped by to check on Josie. She had her calf completely dried off and had moved her to a sunny spot in the grass.