Turn the sound on for this one!
This time, I brought Pippie and the two young heifers into the corral the night before auction day. With a full round bale of hay, a trough of water and Sundance’s run-in for shelter, all three were happy with the accommodations.
At 6am the following day, with the weather rainy but cool, Pippie moved relatively easily into the working pen. By 6:30am, she was loaded on the trailer and we were heading off to the auction.
Saying good-bye to Pippie was sad, but she had lots of other cows to keep her company. And the auction was being held later in the day, so she did not have to spend a night waiting. The circle of life on a farm can be difficult, but with a cow in Pippie’s condition, better to be moving on now rather than risk a difficult calving.
Pippie’s day to leave the farm arrived on the morning before the cull cow auction at the local cattle company. At daybreak, Bill helped me separate Pippie from her small herd of Annie and Rose’. With a bucket of grain to entice her, I walked Pippie across the lane and into the corral.
The daytime high temperature was forecast to be 90 degrees, and the air was already humid and thick at 7am. Bill was headed out for a golf outing, so the plan was to load Pippie that afternoon when he returned. I set up Pippie with extra grain, mineral and a trough of fresh water. In addition, there was the shade structure and Sundance’s run-in for her to shelter from the sun and heat.
No sooner had Bill left than Pippie started pacing, moo’ing and generally acting unsettled. She knew something was up, and was not at all happy about being away from her small herd of three. By 8:30am, with the heat of the day was already setting in, I decided to load Pippie as soon as possible instead of waiting until the afternoon. I called TA and asked if he would stop by and lend a hand.
While waiting for TA, I moved Pippie to the working side of the corral and with Hugo in tow, grabbed the keys to the Superduty pickup truck. Click … click was all I heard as I turned the key to start the truck. Sigh, dead battery. Hugo and I headed back to the house to get the keys to my little blue truck, and then walked back to the shop. As I hitched the stock trailer to the blue truck, I realized that the wiring harness was different and wouldn’t fit. I would be traveling without tail lights on the trailer. Hearing Pippie still moo’ing and pacing, I googled the directions along the back roads to the auction.
Hitching the trailer to the truck was easy, I have done that alone many times. But backing up the trailer to the head gate by myself took a few tries. Especially since the blue truck is two wheel drive and I had to take care not to spin the tires.
After a number attempts and with Hugo sitting on my lap for encouragement, I had everything lined up and in place. Just in time, as TA was coming down the lane. I was sure the morning would now proceed smoothly, Pippie would be at the cattle barn within an hour where she would have the company of other cows, or so I thought.
As soon as I joined Pippie in the working pen, I knew that she clearly had other plans. Pippie adamantly refused to move anywhere near the alleyway. For more than 20 minutes, I tried buckets of grain, gentle tail twists, foot prodding with the cow stick, verbal pleading and actually pushing her on the butt, all of which just made Pippie laugh. She would take couple of steps and then circle back to the shade.
I thought maybe bringing in Hugo would get her moving. With the schnauzer on a long lead, I brought him into the corral. Hugo barked and danced at the back of Pippie’s feet, doing his best to annoy her into motion. More laughing from the cow as she calmly walked back into the shade of the run-in. Giving up, I took Hugo out of the working area through the two panels next to the truck.
TA and I decided to give it one more attempt. I managed to get Pippie out of the run-in, and as she took a few steps along the panels, I looked over her back and realized that I had left the two panels ajar after taking Hugo out. Before I could formulate a thought, that darn cow saw the opening too. And then Pippie, who was too hot to move 10 minutes ago, pivoted on a dime and with the grace of a ballerina, twisted her 1200lb body through the small opening, taking a hard left turn between the truck and panels, and danced with freedom out of the corral.
TA and I followed her across the yard but getting that cow to even look towards the corral was impossible. The only place Pippie would agree to go was back into the South Field to rejoin her herd of three. I gave up and opened the gate.
She laughed at us all the way to the field.
Old Cow – 1 TA and Cowgirl – 0
The herd has been on the first summer time pasture for a week now. The difference between the used field on the left and the fresh field on the right is striking. Eighteen cows, one bull and nine calves have mowed down acres of spring grass in a mere seven days. So we pulled up the line and moved everyone to the greener pasture, beginning the summer rotation.
As with all herd activity, Bella is at the head of the parade while Shane brings up the rear, plodding along, taking his own sweet time.
Once on the fresh field, the air is filled with the sounds of munching. I take some time to walk through and inspect the herd, looking at each cow and calf for soundness, clear eyes or anything out of the ordinary.
Thankfully, everyone looks great! Lucy’s infected back hoof is sound and regrowing, and the rest of her feet look wonderful. The twins are growing well, a bit skinnier than the single calves, but sturdy and healthy. Peggy’s broken leg has completely healed and she runs with the other calves with ease.