This morning we did one of our annual Rites of Spring: We released the cows into the pasture.
Ever since Matilda's debacle in mid-March in which she fell down in the woods after being chased by the rest of the herd, we've kept her strictly away from the others. Sean, her yearling calf, toggles back and forth (sometimes he wants to be with the herd, sometimes he wants to be with mama); but we've been keeping dear elderly Matilda in the driveway, not in the woods with the others. I don't want any more gray hairs (at least from that source).
But green grass is getting scarce in both locations (driveway and woods) since the beasties are eating it down as fast as it grows. Yesterday we caught naughty Matilda leaning over the fence to crop the grass in the yard.
So -- shrug -- we opened the gate and let her into the yard for a couple of hours. (Lydia didn't think much of this arrangement, so we kept her indoors during this time.)
The Ultimate Country Lawn Mower, right? Maybe we could market her.
But it was clear the animals needed more grass. The pasture is now grown to the point where it can sustain the herd. So yesterday morning -- the first truly summery day we've had this year -- was the grand and glorious Moving Day.
We made sure various gates were opened, then gave our universal cattle call: "Bossy bossy bossy bossy BOSSY!!"
Oh my, the herd knew what THAT meant! Brit led the jubilant pack, galloping toward the gate, neighing with excitement.
Various other cattle followed, running as fast as they could.
Within moments -- we're talking 45 seconds, tops -- everyone was chowing down on the green grass.
Well, almost everyone. Victoria's little calf, not old enough to be familiar with the seasonal Rite of Spring, got separated from the herd. "Hey, where'd everybody go?"
Fortunately he found his way through the gate within five minutes or so.
Brit renewed her acquaintance with the horse next door.
However we still had Matilda and Sean to move. I kept them in the barn, their usual night spot, until the rest of the herd was moved down. That's because I wanted to put a halter on Matilda and walk her down into the pasture, followed by Don acting as an armed escort. I wasn't about to take a chance the herd would gang up on her, since she's been apart for so long.
I needn't have worried. Everyone thoroughly ignored her, intent on cramming as much green grass into their bellies as fast as possible.
It was a very peaceful reentry for Matilda, and I'm glad she's back where she belongs. It also underscores the idea that the herd wasn't attacking her back in March when they went chasing her in the woods; they were just in high spirits, looking for an excuse to run. (I just -- ahem -- tend to be overprotective of my favorite cow.)
Later that afternoon, I saw the sweetest sight. Since Matilda and Sean spent the winter in the corral and didn't associated with the rest of the herd, it also meant Matilda was separated from her adult calf Amy. Well, now Amy and Matilda are together again. I caught a quiet moment when mother was grooming daughter. The pleasure in both animals was tangible.
Look at the expression on Matilda's face.
So all is right with the herd. Spring is here.
UPDATE: I'm getting a lot of concern about how awful Matilda looks. Please, folks, she's a Jersey! Don't compare her to "meatier" breeds, like our Dexters (Amy is half-Dexter, so she's meatier than her mama). Jerseys are all "skin, bones, and udder," as a dairyman once put it. The rule of thumb about a Jersey is you should be able to "hang your hat on her hipbone." They just look naturally skinny because they're milk animals, not meat animals. Have no fears, Matilda is quite healthy.