Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Battle Won

The battle? Us against Them....with them being-- the cattle.

Not as much happens here on the farm during the winter but this was to be the week that we moved all the cattle up to the house barn. We needed to do this to get everyone separated out for winter as the stock-piled grass that we had was now close to running out, the calves need to be weened and those being butchered needed to be close. We then needed to send half of that herd back out to the pasture barn. This is the biggest herd we've had since we started raising beef, so it was going to be a bit of an adventure.

Today was the chosen day because the forecast called for Tuesday being the nicest day of the week. The barns had been prepared for its new occupants and we were all given a heads up that everyone needed to be free to help. This is not an enjoyable task as cattle can be unpredictable and there is a chance that the herd could have their own agenda for that day and decide that they want to tour the neighborhood while they are out for the trip.

John asked us all if we were ready for 'Cattle Romp 2008". He headed over to the barn while Nathan went out to the pasture to herd everyone up. I arrived to get my instructions. I was told that I had the north line (electric line that is) and was to hold that line and not to let it be breached!! If that did happen, I was to fall back and keep the perimeter fence secured.

The cattle arrived into the selected barn pasture with the hopes they would follow the funnel system that was set up (with me on the north and Chad on the south of it) and all go into the barn as planned. Of course, with their now new scenery, came excitement. We hoped they would stay 'calm' enough to keep making their way forward.....and to quit playing around!!

The older, bigger cows, steers and bull made their way into the barn as planned (they had done this before) but all the little ones (the ones that we really wanted in there for winter) did not like that idea. There were now too many bigger animals in there for them to feel safe to go in plus they had never been into anything like that before in their life. Now what to do? As Chad and I kept an eye on the little ones to make sure they didn't bolt anywhere, John and Nathan discussed Plan B.

Plan B was for Nathan to single out those now trapped in the barn that needed to come back out and we'd hold them in the barn pasture until they were all out. After that, they would drive them back out to the big pasture and then come back to deal with the little ones that had been been contained into a separate area. This separate area would keep them from mingling with those coming back out.

All went well and when everyone was in place, Chad and I were told to guard the calves while they moved the other half back out. A lot of complaining was starting to transpire now as mother and calf were starting to realize that they were in 2 different places. When they finished that and came back, we tried to cokes the calves to go in the barn with those that were still left in there. After some prodding, finally our mission was accomplished and we breathed a sigh of relief! The boys had to go back out to the big pasture to secure that area better as some of the cattle had managed to get out and were making their way back up to us. The barn for the little ones was secured and I was told I was relieved of duty.

This next week we will have to keep a very close eye on things so that no one breaches the area they were put into. It will be a louder than normal week, as well, as both parties (mothers and calves) go through the separation stages as calves are being weened. It is a good thing that it is cold outside and everyones windows are closed.

So all in all "Cattle Romp 2008" went well--thank the Lord!

posted by Louise

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