Playing with cows

Ahhhh, springtime! Thoughts of little calves running around in green fields chasing butterflies, and butting heads abound. While it’s not quite spring yet, we are expecting a few calves this month. Most of the big ranches usually wait until March, which I would prefer myself, but our new bull Elliott had other ideas. Since he ended up in the pasture with the cows in June, four of our cows should be expecting sometime this month.

So, to make sure that the little calves aren’t killed by our mules, the other day after feeding, I walked all three dogs with me to go check the cows and see if any were looking like they might be calving soon. The old bald (white) face cow looked like she might be bagging up and showed other signs of maybe giving birth fairly soon, so I tried to move her quietly up the hill to the paddock where I could keep an eye on her and keep the calf away from the mules. Tucker and Sage were trying their best not to rush her, and I thought all was going well until she figured she was getting too far from the main herd, so she lowered her head a time or two at the dogs and started moving back. As she’s a rather large cow, both dogs let her go, and I had no way of stopping her, short of getting in front of her. As she probably weighs around 1200-1300 pounds, I didn’t think that would be a good idea.

So I changed plans, figuring it would be easier to get the whole herd in and then separate her and the other three that should be due and leave them in the paddock until I fixed the fence in the front pasture area. That was easier said than actually done. As I encouraged the dogs to start moving the herd up the small hill and to the paddock, they all headed in the opposite direction, away from where I wanted them to go. So I  walked down to where they were hung up in the corner of the fence, and started moving them slowly up the fence line, hoping they would just keep on going up the fence and to the paddock. (We’ve done this a couple of dozen times with this herd, so they know where to go.) This time the cows didn’t want to go to the paddock, and headed out to the middle of the pasture and gathered in a small group. Somewhere along the line, three of the cows that I wanted in the paddock broke away from the main herd and headed even further away. I asked Tucker to go get them, but Sage and EmmaLee decided they would help, and the next thing I knew they were heading rapidly to the furthest corner of the field. I hollered at the dogs, and luckily enough they actually listened to me and came back for further instructions. I got in front of the cows and slowly started moving them in the right direction, with Tucker and Sage eagerly trying to push them faster than I wanted to go. They haven’t learned yet that the best speed with cows is slooooowwwww!

By then it was getting dark, and I briefly wondered if I would get them in and separated. As I moved them up into the paddock, a huge full moon came up over the West Elk Mountains. I wish I had had my camera, as it was so beautiful hanging there. With that, I had more than enough light to move the cows around, and quickly got the cows that I wanted to keep in the front pasture separated from the others.

I headed for the house, but felt reluctant to go in, as the night was actually pleasant, if you can call 30 some degrees pleasant, and the moon was so gorgeous, it was almost a sin going into the house and blocking it out.


2 responses to “Playing with cows

  1. Tammy,

    Why would mules kill calves? I was surprised at that.

  2. I honestly don’t know. But they will attack and kill goats, calves, dogs, etc. One of our mules busted one of my dogs’ legs several years ago, and another one stomped on Charolais. Last year, we almost lost Nomeo, the black and white calf, when he was only a day or two old and wander thru the fence to the mules pasture. They beat the daylights out of him! BUT, they’ll watch a coyote walk right by! Irritating. I don’t know if it’s the donkey in them, and they think they need to “guard” their area or what. I’ve never researched it to find out, just know they will and have to take precautions.

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