Tom and Carol were away at a wedding, but it was the day for breeding time to end. This meant Jeff and I were responsible for bringing the different breeding groups home to the corrals and sorting out the bulls before returning the herd back to pasture. It was also a home-veterinarian day as we sprayed the herd for flies and also doctored two animals who had encountered porcupines while we had them in the corrals where we could manage them.
In case you'd like a refresher, here's a bit of an explanation on the fly-spraying that I did in a post about a year ago- Newsflash: Cows get flies. Cows get flies realllllly bad. Bulls get them even worse than cows! Do you like getting fly bites? Me neither. I can’t imagine constantly having so many flies swarming around me. I tend to reach for the bug spray pretty quickly. Animals can’t apply it to themselves, so that’s where we come in. They really seem to love the fly spray, which is mixed in with cool water. On a hot summer day, it probably feels pretty good to get a cool shower and be rid of your bugs all at once!
The cows were edgy all day long. I think it was the combination of being covered with biting flies, the heat, and the terrible smoke in the air from forest fires in Oregon and Washington. It just seemed like they weren't having anything we wanted them to do all day.
We went out to the pasture and started driving in the first group, which went fine until we joined them up with the second group, who were in another pasture on the way from the first pasture back to the yard. Once the two groups joined up, all they wanted to do was get reacquainted and push each other around for a while. I wish I had taken some photos of that, but what happens is two cows lower their heads down and literally go head-to-head, pushing each other back and forth. It's even more dramatic when two bulls go at it.
|The tail-end of the group we drove in from pasture first thing in the morning.|
Getting the first two breeding groups into the yard and secured in the corrals took us about until lunch-time. After lunch, we began the arduous task of loading and hauling the cows who were at pasture at our place-- Jeff and I had a breeding group on the pasture East of our house for the summer, almost 10 miles from our corrals at Tom and Carol's. These animals had to be loaded into the trailer and taken over. As I mentioned, the cows were edgy all day and this was no exception. It took us FOREVER to get all the animals loaded. We had to do four different groups of either 6 or 7 pairs per group, plus the bull. No one wanted to load into the trailer. Eventually, after four trips between our place and Tom and Carol's, we had them all.
Finally, by about 4:00 p.m., we had everyone in the corrals where they were supposed to be. We then went through the process of spraying them with the fly-treat. For this, we took small groups at a time, Jeff sprayed them down, and then shooed them out into the big holding pen. The animals were at times reluctant to go where we wanted them to, or they'd all come at once. Animals be animals. Thankfully, for the most part, we have very gentle cows in our herd.
Earlier in the morning, Jeff had spotted two cows who had porcupine quills in their chins, so when we found each of them, we worked them into the chute to pull out the quills.
This cow (in photos above and below) was the first of the two with quills that we helped. She was reluctant at first, but seemed to calm down once she realized what we were doing was actually helping her. Once we had her in the chute, Jeff used a special lasso to hold her head still while I pulled out the quills with needle-nose pliers. I'm sure it did not feel good, but I'm also quite certain she feels much better now with them out. After I got them all, she even let me scratch her head a little bit. I took that as her way of saying thank you.
Sometimes it feels like as we transition the farm and ranch from Jeff's parents down to he and I managing, owning, operating, that we are taking on something monumentally difficult. Especially for me, not having grown up in this lifestyle, it sometimes makes me feel a bit overwhelmed to think about me and Jeff running the show. Are we qualified? Are we capable? Are we strong enough mentally, physically, and in our relationship? Can we do it?
Even though the day was hot, smoky, stressful and trying on me and Jeff at times, it is satisfying to have done it together, just the two of us. It was a big job for two people to manage that many animals and get it all done without incident (other than the four-wheeler). This day was big for me as affirmation that yes, we are qualified, capable, and strong enough. It's not going to be easy, but we can-- and will-- succeed. In the farming and ranching lifestyle, the risks and challenges can be unrelenting, but that makes the rewards that much greater, especially when doing it together with family.
We drove back to our own place late that evening, nearly twelve hours after we began our ranch work that morning, feeling hot, tired, and dirty but satisfied and glad to be done. We celebrated with a beer, some delicious frozen pizza (anything would have tasted gourmet this night!) and some cuddle time with Harvey on the couch. We are lucky to be doing what we doing in a place that we love.
|Number one cow-herding dog, he is not. But he sure is handsome!|