For the past several months, friends have been bugging me to write another farm post – it’s been quite a while. The problem is that I haven’t been able to think of anything terribly interesting. Most farm work does make for a good blog post – chores, feeding, cutting hay, repairing fences, … Just not great content for an interesting post.
Well today I had an experience that I thought was worth sharing.
It’s Wed Dec 23rd and I’m off work. I’ve been doing a lot of farm work but, in the last couple of days, it has been raining like crazy – over 4 inches, I think. My fields are like huge grassy ponds and there’s just not a lot I can get done so I’ve been kind of doing the minimum and getting some inside work done.
Any way, it was time for me to move the cows to a new field – something we have to do every day or two this time of year. I opened the gates and the majority of cows came running through (it’s a lot so you can’t really count them). I saw two calves had gone through the fence into an adjacent field and were “stuck”. So, after I moved the big group, I opened the gate for them and had to chase them around (calves are too dumb to find gates on their own ). As I was chasing them around, the big group of cows were mooing a lot – happy to be in a new field, and I heard a single moo from the other direction. There are woods over that way so I was inclined to think it was just echo off the trees but it didn’t sound quite right.
So, after getting the two wayward calves settled, I went to investigate. What I found was one of our 6 month old calves (probably ~500lbs) caught between two trees.
As it turns out calves have a simple algorithm for navigation – If my head fits through it, I can go. The problem is that their shoulders are wider than their head and their hips are even wider yet. In fact, this behavior is one we take advantage of. We catch cows in a “head gate” when we need to work with them. The cow walks down a chute, sees a gap in the head gate and tries to go through it. The edges of the gate catch their shoulders and close, locking the cow in.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time I’ve had cows get stuck (never between two trees before, but it’s not an unheard of problem around our working facilities).
So, off I had to tromp in the pouring rain up to the barn to fetch my chain saw so that I could cut one of the trees down and release the cow. As you might imagine, cows aren’t terribly happy about someone cutting with a chain saw right next to them. They get quite agitated and I had to be careful not to get kicked, cut the calf’s leg or drop the tree on the calf. In the end, everything worked out and the calf was freed and rejoined the herd. I dragged my soggy, dirty self back to the house to take a shower so I can go finish my Christmas shopping Better late than never, I suppose.
I hope you vicariously enjoy the silliness that comes along with taking care of a bunch of animals. Have a great holiday and a happy new year!