Day 186 – round up

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Cows look so nice, grazing in their pasture or loafing around inside the barn.  The picture of bucolic country life.  Ahhh.

But Mr. Hyde typically emerges when you need to sort them for any reason.

Sorting cattle is stressful for the humans who are in with the herd, trying to get this one to go that way, and that one to go this way, and also for the cattle, who know something is up, but can’t quite figure out what to do besides mill around and froth.

But this time something happened.  Maybe it’s because we’ve been working with the herd more – not intentionally, but calves being sold here, a few steers to the butcher there.  Maybe it’s because the half-crazy cow left (to return as tasty hamburger in the freezer) and the herd calmed down.  Or maybe because we had fantastic help and/or didn’t try to rush the sorting process.  Whatever it was, the momma cows filed out with only a few cases of pushing and shoving, and the bull and the steers trotted into the pen easier than in a long time.  The younger calves were running around, but ended up running in the opposite direction of the bull & steers, so no one got penned up who shouldn’t have (let my husband tell you how much fun that is – trying to sort out a frantic calf from frantic steers, all with momma cow bellowing on the other side of the gate).

Saturday, the bull will be on his way to his “other home” for 6 months, and Monday, one steer has a date with the butcher.  We’ll turn the other two (a steer and a yearling bull) back out, then re-collect them in the fall for processing.  And do the process all over again.

Sometimes, the best way to learn is to do it all wrong

So, we had a bull calf born out of cycle last spring, and for some reason for the past year, I’ve assumed I was going to band him for a steer. Now, we don’t really need a steer that will be ready sometime in the fall, but that’s what I had in my head, so […] Continue reading

So, we had a bull calf born out of cycle last spring, and for some reason for the past year, I’ve assumed I was going to band him for a steer.

Now, we don’t really need a steer that will be ready sometime in the fall, but that’s what I had in my head, so that was what I was going with today when I marshaled him into the head gate to band him.

Or, that’s at least what I thought I was going to do. He had other ideas.

During the course of getting stepped on and almost kicked in the head, my mother-in-law remarked, “Just sell him,” and at first I balked. After all, I was intent on banding that bull for a steer.

But why?

After all, I put off banding him for a year, don’t need him for the meat, and frankly, he’s just too damned big to band now anyway. But, that’s how I did it last year, and that’s how I was going to do it again this year, right?

After thinking about it, I realized that the answer is really “no”. We have calves born around here every six months, and they’re far easier to band when they’re small and when I actually need them, so now the big guy is going to be sold as a yearling bull.

In the mean time, I’ve learned to think about the whole process a whole lot better than I was even just a few hours ago. I’ve heard what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I suspect that’s because we learn not to do that again.

DLH

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