Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cattle drive

It was time to move the cattle.

We have two sides of our property in which the cattle can graze: the wooded side (which has limited feed) and the pasture side. But about this time of year, both sides are depleted to the point where the critters could use some fresh grass.

Thankfully the neighbor who owns the vacant 20-acre parcel next to us allows us to lease the property for about two months each fall. We call this parcel the "pond property" because there's a beautiful stock pond on it.

But before we can move the cattle, we have to walk the fence line and make sure there are no gaps or low spots they can escape. So late one evening (after the sun went down -- it was far too hot during the day) Don and I gathered our tools -- wire, pliers, nippers, gloves -- and set off.

(By the way, in the country this is known as a "date night.")

This parcel had been mowed for grass hay a couple of weeks ago, which meant we were freed from having to wade through waist-high fields as we walked the perimeter. Still plenty of grazing, though.

These fence lines were the focus of our attention.

In a number of places, the fence wire had been pushed down (by the horses on the other side) to the point where it was easy for cattle to step or jump over.

In those spots, we pulled the fencing back up and wired it securely to the T-post.

We walked the perimeter of the 20-acre parcel and thankfully only had to make a few minor repairs. (Date night over.)

The next morning, I walked down toward the gate at the bottom of the pasture, calling as I went: "Bossy bossy bossy bossy BOSSY!!"

Oh my, that got their attention!! The older animals knew precisely what was up. Within minutes, they formed an orderly line behind me.

But soon their eagerness overcame their orderliness, and many of them made a mad dash for the gate.


A bunch of them made it to the gate far ahead of me.

"C'mon! Will you hurry up already?"

Once I opened the gate, Brit was the first in (as usual).

But everyone else soon came pouring through.

Everyone, that is, except four of the calves who lagged behind and then got mixed up about where to go.

"Mama? Where are you?"

I tried scooting them down toward the gate...

...but calves at this age are still "puppy stupid" (as we call it) and they kept missing the open gate.

Bottom line, they all four followed me back up toward the house, like little lemmings.

To their dismay, I closed the gate on them to keep them in the pasture. So, confused, they bedded down for a couple of hours right by the gate.

Eventually the cows, grazing greedily in the distance, noticed that 2/3 of their calves were missing, and fetched them down to the pond property.

So all's well that ends well. However it meant that in the evening after the sun went down, when I wanted to lock up Polly for the night so I could milk her the next morning, I had a lot of walking to do... since, naturally, she was in the farthest possible corner of the pond property.

As I walked, I saw thunderheads building up in the south.

The cows (and calves) were quite happy.

So happy that Polly did NOT want to be led up to the barn. She dragged her hooves the whole way. (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

We had an impressive show of thunder and lightning that evening, and a massive storm cell was heading straight toward us. Unfortunately it juuuuust barely missed us and skirted about a mile to the west. We stayed dry.

It's worth noting we've barely seen the cows in the last few days. They're happy as clams where they are!


  1. wow. enjoyed your post.

  2. hi. i'll tell you what i've noticed in northeast ohio, where we are right under lake erie.
    several weeks ago a big flock of robins passed through on their way south.
    in the intervening weeks three flocks of geese have headed south, the most recent yesterday.
    i don't know what it will do where you live but i suggest getting as much hay as possible, beyond what you think you'll need, and battening down for a difficult winter.
    remember when laura ingalls' pa got the word from an indian that every so many years the winter was terrible, and it was?

    this might be one of those.
    if the extra hay turns out to be unnecessary, okay. but if you need it and didn't lay it in there will be bitter tears.

    just saying.
    a word to the wise.

    deb harvey

  3. "Date night". Sounds like my husband's company calling his time home "vacation".

    He's a trucker, runs primarily back east and midwest. Time home is scattered and usually short while he's under a load. So twice a year, spring and fall, he takes a couple of weeks to a month off and we work on the BIG projects (building something, getting the garden going, putting everything up for the winter, stuff like that). I save every penny for the rest of the year to get us through that time (he's not working, so there's no income) and to buy whatever materials we think we'll need. Trucking is a fairly sedentary job, since most of it involves just sitting and driving, with occasional helping load and unload (he drives refrigerated, so there's not much of that). When he's home, he's working his fanny off, trying to get everything done, of course. When he's ready to go back to "work", he calls the company and tells them he's ready for his vacation now, please get him back out on the truck!

  4. Yupper...really enjoyed this piece.

    Those pent-up city slickers will never know the real joys of farm life set out in this article. Poor devils! Let 'em eat silly plastic hand-held texting devices (whatever they are!)

    Give me freedom, clean air and critters any day.

    I'm here in Central Ohio. Deb has a good point--make hay while the sun shines. If the winter is brutal, feed will be as well. Hay prices in some parts had skyrocketed due to all our Spring rains (19 days straight!) A word to the wise (which you and your readers are!)

    God Bless, keep the faith


  5. It sounds as though you don't have the land to graze your herd. Presently you supplement with access to a neighbours land and with bought hay.
    If an event occurs, do you have a plan to reconcile the available feed with the cattle you have?
    About the only way I can see you being able to do that is to reduce your cattle head count.

  6. I love these posts about dealing with your cattle. They are wonderful to read and see. Living vicariously through your daily life. Thank you.

  7. Glad your problems w/ blog are solved. Love reading your blog, esp. since there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Robins have left here for the most part this last week (8/10/13). Earliest I can ever remember (southern Michigan almost to Indiana). August has been 'fall like' w/ mist coming off the lake as in October. Batten the hatches.

  8. How the heck have I not seen your blog before? What a great article for me to start off with! Came over here to your site after a mention on SB about the difficulties with Google. I will be coming back daily.

  9. Very funny I enjoyed laughing nice after a busy busy morning!

  10. Nothing like some bovine hilarity in the Peaceful Kingdom to end my day!

    (SIDEBAR: I have the same "in my bones" feeling about an early and harsh winter. Can't explain it. It's just there. I was only a little surprised to read about robins bugging out so soon. The barn swallows look like they're getting ready to leave, too: Huge flocks, flitting about, taking roll call every morning on the wires. They're usually gone by Labor Day...we'll see if this year is any different.)

    Just Me

  11. Just had "lunch date" with the neighbors fence line. Like you we have limited pasture, so we run the girls on their land to remove the fire danger, it is a win-win for them and us.
    The borrowed pasture is so nice, it is still some what green compared to our brown weeds.

  12. Fall has arrived here....first with a smell in the air and then with leaves flying in the wind. It came yesterday.

    It feels like it's gonna be a hard winter.

    A. McSp