I didn't sleep well last night.
That's because just as I was dropping off to sleep, I heard thundering hooves in the woods as the livestock galloped around and crashed through bushes and bellowed. Such activity always causes farmers to clutch their hearts with fear. Predators?
Don was still awake but since the downstairs windows were closed, he didn't hear the activity. I debated getting up, but since the noise denoted excitement rather than fear or pain, I stayed in bed. Trouble was, I didn't sleep worth beans because it's kinda like when your kids are awake and you lay in bed dimly noting their activities (mothers know what I'm talking about) -- sleep wouldn't come.
So this morning, after a rotten five hours' sleep, I stumbled out of bed around 4 am. It was barely light out, but a yearling was bellowing so I booted up and walked down into the woods to see if anyone was dead or injured.
I heard, rather than saw, Samson the bull. IN THE WOODS. He's not supposed to be in the woods, he's supposed to be IN HIS PEN. Crud.
Sure enough, I walked back toward the barn and saw this.
Well, nothing could be done at that hour of the morning. The bull pen would obviously require fixing, and the bull wasn't going anywhere.
Indeed, he was having the time of his life. Girls! He was surrounded by lots and lots of GIRLS!
He strutted around in a comically manly fashion, lord of his domain.
Lord of his harem, too.
After Don was up and had his coffee, he commenced the repairs. Samson sure did a number on the pen's 2x6s. Never underestimate the strength of a bull's muscles -- or his hormones.
Don sistered patches to the boards to strengthen them (since we didn't have any spare 2x6s on hand).
It was a good, sturdy patch.
Then -- the pièce de résistance -- a double strand of hot wire to provide added incentive to keep Samson away from the fence. Oh the indignity!
After the repairs were done, we didn't rush the bull back in, but instead waited for a convenient opportunity when the animals had naturally wandered into the feedlot adjacent to the pen. That opportunity came in the early afternoon, and we calmly encouraged Samson and a random cow into the pen. The random cow turned out to be Raven, whose calf Chester we butchered in April. Raven was an excellent candidate to share the pen with the bull and get bred in the process.
Here Samson looks a little down in the mouth to be back in his pen, but honestly I think he was glad and/or relieved. He settled right down with Raven and we haven't heard a peep of protest (sometimes the Big Wide World can be a scary place). I barely missed a chance to take a darling shot of him nuzzling Raven with affection.
The whole purpose of the bull pen is to keep bully-boy's hormones in check since we have many heifers who are far too young to breed. (A heifer shouldn't be bred earlier than about fifteen months, which puts her at about two years of age when she gives birth.) As it is, I'm worried that Amy, Matilda's calf, was the hot young babe in heat that convinced Samson to crash through the fencing last night. Amy is only nine months old, so she may be due for a shot of Lutalyse (an abortifant) to make sure she wasn't bred.
Meanwhile we decided to move the rest of the herd from the woods down to the left-hand pasture, which has grown nice and lush in the last few weeks. We opened the gate invitingly.
Don opened up the gate to the feedlot...
...then stood back as the herd came thundering through.
Within about thirty seconds, everyone was down in the pasture. Wheee! Fresh grass!
Once again things are quiet and peaceful on the homestead. And hopefully I'll get a good night's sleep tonight.