Mike opened up the gate so the main herd could drift into the large, harvested hay field. The cows have been off this patch of pasture since early spring when we intentionally kept them out so the grass could grow tall enough to harvest.
The more senior cows know the drill and get right to eating the leftovers from the harvest. The dropped spears, the missed edges, the get-aways that didn’t go through the baler. There are many bales worth of forage for the herd. The calves enter the field like it is summer break from school. They dart, cavort, head butt other calves and run circles around the diverging herd with wild abandon. The calves are old enough now that the antics of the little ones do not upset the mother cows like it did when they were smaller, more delicate and possible prey for the coyotes that hang around.
We opened many gates around the boundary of the field so none of the herd would get stuck either on the inside or on the outside of the field and they have access to the hillside, the back pasture by the spring, and up into the woods. We headed over to the only field that has not yet been harvested to make sure the gate was secure since we do not want any cows in there until it is completed and the hay has been stowed in the barn. That is when we saw a herd of ten elk standing smack dab in the middle of the tall grass.
Mike went trodding through the thick, thigh-high, wet grass while I tried bouncing along the outside the field on the cow trail with the Gator. Mike hollered and whistled while I gunned the motor and blew on my shrill Bobby’s whistle. The elk went helter-skelter out of the field towards the woods in the back toward of the rounded bend of the river. By the time Mike got down there, the herd had circled and started back into the field. We both increased our volume and movements and scared the herd across the river where they crossed the county road and ran pell-mell crashing through the forest up the hill.
They had been standing out there right in the middle with only their heads sticking out above the tall grass of the 6 acre field.