I almost titled this story ‘Stupid Cows’, in fact that was how I described the events to my sister in a text. But it was not really stupidity as the driving factor, but more a matter of timing and poor choices.
The main herd across the river is still getting used to the idea of not having all the wide open ranging of the pastures and large fields since the soggy time of the year began and we fenced them out of many of their usual wandering areas. Now they have to go around the fields instead of cutting through the middle. To get a drink of water they either need to travel to the back of the property by the spring or go to the front to the river. When they are near the front, they have a tendency to cross the river to check the old fruit trees to see if there were any apples left even though the last stragglers had fallen or been eaten by birds weeks ago. Continue reading
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We were on our way across the river to feed the main herd their evening meal when Mike noticed a small herd of about twenty elk in the far, far field. Not willing to let resting elk lay, he whistled and hollered at them to get out of our field. They did move but they did not run away. Mike had started a wild critter stampede. Continue reading
Mike has a tone that he uses to call the cows. If he is not making that tone, the cows do not respond to those other noises he makes like whistling, hollering at elk, calling the dogs or swearing a blue streak when the wrench slips and he smashes his finger. The cows can be near or clear across the river, the field and far into the woods, when they hear Mike’s “come Boss” sounding tone they begin answering him with their own bellows eventually bringing the whole herd to where Mike is.
The Gator makes a sound that they also respond to. When we are into the time of year when we feed twice a day, usually October through March, the Gator signals time for a meal and the cows come as soon as they hear the motor rev. But this time of year the herd ignores the Gator and only responds to Mike’s tone.
The herd was thrilled with all the green grass that has grown in this harvested hayfield over the last two weeks as they were busy attending to the far, far field.
The herd scattered out slightly once they got into the field but they would not be moved from all the good eating even though we were planning on moving them to the 6 acre field for the day. The cows won the battle of us trying to walk behind, cajole, swing arms and holler to get them to move into the smaller field that was just as green as this one. Even Mike moving ahead of them and singing out his particular tone didn’t persuade a single cow to call back with a response. Oh well, perhaps tomorrow they will be in the mood to move…
Sometime during the night, the cows and calves of the main herd decided to cross the river to lounge and nibble in a small field near the county road.
This field just happens to be across the road from the bull pen where we have five yearling bulls that are simply itching to make friends with some females. We heard the snuffling and snorting well before sunrise and knew exactly what was going on before we got out of bed.
Electric fences keep everyone separated and away from the log trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and commuter traffic that travel between the two groups of critters.
The calves are all bunched into gangs that usually correlate with their ages. The youngest three calves typically hang together so the bigger ones don’t pick on them although the spunky ones break the boundaries to practice head butting and chasing. Continue reading
This is a continuation of the post from 5/29/2019 titled, Ya Just Never Know.
So I told you about moving the main herd out of our way after ear tagging some of the older calves and the fun time we had taking out the irrigation line with the mess of digging a trench to bury a new PVC line.
We had anticipated the cows would be able to graze for five to seven days without running out of grass or new growth on the under brush surrounding the far field, but things did not start out well. We were surprised when after only one day over there, one cow had figured out how to escape from one side of the fence to the other. She was making trails, leaving plops and eating as much tall grass as she could in the small 6 acre hay field while her herd mates hollered at her from across the fence. We had to coax her from the 6 acre field into the 26 acre field and across the expanse of that field and open up the ‘run’ made with temporary electric fencing so we could open the gate and let her back in with her herd. Continue reading
We have been worried about our dry spring weather. We could see the stress on the new seedlings in the forest, the dusty lane around the fields that would normally be swamp messes this time of year, and in the growing hay fields. The grass didn’t look as green as it should and had practically stopped growing. We had concerns that we would have to start mowing a month early to keep from losing the nutrients as the grass dries out. Continue reading
This week has been glorious with the warmer temps and all but a bit of snow remaining from the piles scooped from along the roadway. Spring is in the air, the mud is drying, grass is growing, things are beginning to come out of dormancy. Continue reading