Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Just Follow Your Momma
I haven't seen my husband too much of late. Don't worry, we are still SO much in love, its just the time of year for early mornings and late nights. We have made it to our spring turn out dates so over the last few weeks we have been gathering the cattle, sorting into the different groups and then hauling them to their new pasture. Of course that includes branding (and read tagging, vaccinating, marking) any calves that we missed or were born after we branded (ya, that happens...). And we gotta make sure that the new pasture is ready- water flowing and fences up. The combination of no water and terrible fences means cows out... not what we need.
So needless to say, I haven't seen The Rancher too much. But every once in a while I have a day that I don't have anything else going on (well, except house work... but that's never stopped me from going out!) and they are doing something that we can help with so we tag along.
We were helping gather up the cows out on our private land and I just had to chuckle at some of the things that we deal with working these darn cows. Lets just start by saying that cows don't think (mostly), they react, and calves don't react, they freak out.
Most of these cows get that when we start pushing them towards the gate that it means new grass and boy do they step out. They just get a-walking, thinking only of filling their bellies. But then all of the sudden, they remember that they have a calf... somewhere. So they turn around and start bawling for baby, making other mommas do the same. Hey now! We are trying to go out the gate and every time you stir up the herd to find your baby that you forgot about because all you think about is food you cause problems! Too bad saying that wouldn't actually get anything done- rational talk doesn't work with cows that don't really think.
With such a big herd we use our cow dogs to move them along. But sometimes that causes a little bit of an extra stir. See, in the winter we can get coyotes or even wolves that bother the herds, putting momma cow on super high alert. Anything that looks like a coyote is in trouble, including The Rancher's dog. This is the same dog that is around every year, all year and they know who he is but they put up a stink if he gets too close.
The roughest part about moving the herd in the springtime is pushing the calves. With momma gonna, they are doing their darndest to find her and keep up with the herd. But with such little legs and no clue of where they are going, they tend to just lag. And if, for some reason, they get behind they freak out, running in the exact opposite direction as the herd. There is no coercing the darn things to go in the right direction until they just do it themselves (hmm, sounds like my kids!). They will run through fences, the brush, anything that gets in their path! Sometimes we just get 'em good and tired and then grab them.
It sounds pretty bad when I explain it all out like this, and it is if all of this is happening at once. But usually its not every cow that turns back and the dog has learned to shove with love and we do pretty good at keeping the calves from getting behind. But it would all be so much better if those darn babies would just follow momma (or momma not leave them behind...)! Regardless, we are getting the work done and loving it (well, most of it). And we will love it even more when it is done!