Saturday, November 22, 2014

Working animals

New calf feeder in the barn lot.
We decided to move the old iron tire from beside the machine shop into the barn lot to feed the calves.  This way the horses cannot guard both locations.  In the background of the picture you can see the horses coming over to check things out and chase off the calves.  Luckily, the two biggest animals are food, soon to be slaughtered and the two little heifers will be breeding stock in the late spring.  We will be that much closer to getting our ten animal herd. 

We had presold our little bull this summer after he was born.  So we kept him intact and did not neuter him.  Fast forward six months and now our buyer is not ready, pasture wise, to have a bull.
So Zeke and I sorted the cows on Wednesday.  There was much swearing and angst on my part, with lots of walking.  The cows ran to the farthest corner of the lower pasture.  I had climbed halfway up the hill and sent Zeke to go "circle round" the cows.  Which means he is supposed to run up to the top of the hill run across the top and push the cows down the hill.  Nope. He did not comply.  Instead he ran up the hill and into the CRP to chase mice.   I had to walk up to the top of the hill and call him out of the CRP.  He was not complying with my wishes.  We did eventually get a plan of action established and Zeke was helpful.  Once all the cows were in the new barn lot pen it only took about ten minutes to sort everyone out. 

This morning we had to run the calves into the square pen it took a few tries but eventually they went in.  It is funny to think about people who have never worked cows watching that work.  The calve is around 300#.  That is a lot of cow to wrestle to the ground and try to get a small rubber band the size of an eraser onto a scrotum the size of baseball.  At one point we had five ropes in play, one grown man laying on top of the cow, one small woman stepping on its head and two people holding onto ropes.  It only took about 35 minutes to put one small rubber band in place.  We had to reposition the calf onto its back to get good access.  While the calf was on its side we could not get both testicles into place.  One testicle was 50% bigger than the other! We did finally get it done!  No one got hurt and the calf only had a small bloody nose from trying to jump through the gate Annmarie was gamely holding closed. 

Afterwards, Annmarie and I went into the barn and tagged and banded all five babies.  Everyone of them was a boy, we are hoping that trend does not continue.  So they are now all mixed in with the whole herd.  This makes morning baby check a little more time consuming. You have to check each ear for a tag. 

Our collapsible feeder in action.