In preparation for working the cows, which is somewhat comparable to a semi-annual inspection and tune-up, this past Sunday we enlisted the help of two friends to move our herd from the Mountain field to the South field. The preparation began with an hour of setting up a temporary alley between the two fields using step-in posts and polywire. Then I hooked up the feed trough to the hitch on the Kawasaki Mule, to entice Shane and the ladies with sweet feed. All was proceeding smoothly until I realized that Patty and her 5 day old calf were not with the herd gathering at the gate. Setting out on foot to search the 20 acre field, I finally found them in the shade of a group of trees at the complete other end of the pasture, ugh. The calf jumped up and decided to have a meal. When he finished nursing, I started the slow walk back to the gate with Patty and her little bundle of joy leading the way.
By the time I reached the rest of the herd near the gate, Crazy Heidi and her side kick Billie, were growing antsy and wary. Sure enough, as soon as the gate was opened to start the procession to the South Field, Heidi took off in the opposite direction with Billie and Billie’s calf in tow. There was nothing to do except continue moving the majority of the herd through the alley way. After getting 17 cows, 6 calves and one bull safely to the South Field, we returned to the Mountain Field to try and convince Crazy Heidi and Billie and the calf to follow the herd.
Fast forward 2.5 hours. Four adult humans were completely exhausted and three cows were (again) running down the length of the field. The weather was hot and humid and after so much chasing, I worried the calf was being pushed too hard. To the relief of everyone involved, we decided to throw in the flag. These three bovines were going to stay in the Mountain Field until being reunited with the herd in a few days.
Originally, the plan was to work the herd in about a week. But my quarter horse Sundance was coming back to the farm over the weekend. Sundance’s run-in is located at one end of the corral where the cattle working area is as well. I wanted to get the cattle out of his corral and returned to the Dixon Fields as soon as possible. So yesterday, we continued toward the goal of working the cattle by again moving the herd, this time to the Front Field, which borders the corral.. As with the all of our pasture moves, step one is to set up temporary posts and polywire to connect the two fields.
The cows hear the click, click, squeal of the polywire being unrolled and gather excitedly by the gate, waiting to move to greener pastures. The flies are just tormenting poor Patty and Gilley, our black angus cows. One primary reason we work the cows this time of year is to administer a pour-on wormer, wipe their faces and spray them with fly repellent. I tried fly ear tags a number of years ago and was not a fan of them. Besides not keeping down the number of flies, the cows are always batting their eyes with their ears, and those medicated tags would hit their eyes. I haven’t used them since.
I opened the gate, pulled the trough through the alleyway and the whole herd followed, cows and calves and Shane the bull.
Halfway across the alleyway, Josie realizes that she has lost track of her calf. She stops, looks around for her, lets out a “follow me” moo, then continues to the new field.
And along comes Josie’s little white-faced heifer.
New field, fresh grass, and everyone celebrates!