Thursday, June 19, 2014

The great escape

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.


  1. Just an FYI: You've got a hockey school ran by Wayne Gretzky's son coming into Coeur D'Alene July 27th to August 1st. Some big names that are friends of his dad will be coming too so it might be a bit of a circus there.

  2. It must be that time of year. When we went up to the barn a few days ago, our billy goat and wether's gate was open and they were in with the does. It's hard to tell, but I don't think anyone bred. Lucky for us, there were no repairs required. Just an extra chain on the gate for insurance. But, even with these types of experiences, life on the farm is great, don't you think?


  3. Fantastic photos! You tell a great story...that is until you started talking about Raven. My daughters name is Raven so I had to stop reading after that point. But loved your photos :)

  4. Your blog makes me even more excited to return to rural life. 18 mos ago we moved from our rural home in Wa to Priest River for a job. 2 biggest mistakes of my life. Leaving my SAHM life and going back to work which = my kids going to Public School which did not last long. 2nd biggest mistake moving to town. In August we are moving to 10 lovely acres at the base of HooDoo Mt. On an old Christmas Tree farm and I CAN NOT WAIT. It is a berm home built in the 70's. I would have moved to a shack to get out of town. BUT! God is so good and gracious and we found this lovely rental and may get to buy it in a few years. Back to the life I love. Back to my chickens, homeschooling, herb growing, quilt making, long winters tucked inside, short summers working hard. What was I thinking giving it up before. NEVER AGAIN!

  5. Reminds me of the early morning I woke up and couldn't reason why. But went to look out the living room window into the shadowy backyard, where to my surprise the calves where running in circles! Looked like they had a game of chase going. Everyone was routed out of bed then to entice the mommas and babes back in.

  6. Had me laughing right from the start! Sorry you had such a fitful rest last night! But, you surely do tell a wonderful story!! I love how you name all your cows, calves, bull. Besides being so interesting, there is always something to learn in your telling ...and those wonderful photos!! Another plus...all the gorgeous scenery you capture with that ever present camera! Inspiring!

  7. Its to be hoped he is a quiet bull , I have seen them do a number on 2.1/2 inch drill pipe and cement block bull pens when they get a mood on them , freezer camp is the only answer to a overly frisky bull. !

  8. We had to repair our feed lot so much dad got tired of it. He came home from work with his truck loaded down with guard rails. He got them free from the highway department. No cow ever escaped again.