Monday, December 10, 2012

The Cows Moo-ve In

Friday afternoon the cows arrived. 

I'd been in and out all afternoon with the laundry and various chores.  The horses were grazing, stopping now and then to stare northward.  When I walked up the road to get the mail I could hear cows bawling and the sound of engines from our closest neighbors.  By the time I'd walked back to the house and processed the next batch of clothes from washer to basket to line, the cow noises were getting louder and the horses had abandoned grazing in favor of standing sentry looking up the hill.

Sure enough, when I walked down to where I could get a view of from their vantage, here came J (yes, I know, another one) and his Kubota runabout leading a trail of complaining bovines.  Most of the older cows have wintered here before, and once they'd passed the gate from the next field up they picked up the pace and trotted ahead of him down to the big tank.  There was much splashing, banging and thudding as they all pushed and shoved for first dibs on a drink.  The level on the tank, even large as it is dropped alarmingly fast.  I hooked the hose to the hydrant - it has too much pressure behind it to leave a float on, water just blows out the top - and watched a couple cows climb right into the tank.

Through all the commotion I'd been keeping a weather eye on the horses to see how they'd react, but they were more concerned with tracking J's progress on the runabout than they were with worry about the moo-vers-in now sharing their fenceline.  J drove around to check the gates on the far side of the south pasture, then stopped back up to chat for a minute. 

He's got some late/early(?) calves starting to drop, and with the forecast set for winter-like temps and maybe snow to arrive at long last, he figured they'd better get the cows moved.  There were 8 or so new calves mixed in with the rest.  He still had a few stragglers making their way along, a couple with newbies, so he was heading back up to see where they'd gotten to.  The cows will have about 6 big fields and pastures that are all opened up for them, but they'll be watering here and when the weather gets bad they'll bring in bales for them down here in the trees where it's more sheltered.  It makes a great place for calving.

The horses have all seen cows, but the cows had never seen a horse before. 

I picked up grain yesterday not because any of them need the extra calories, but because I wanted a tasty treat to teach them to come when I holler.  Pre-cow invasion I'd set up four feeding spots in the corral and dribbled a half-cup or so of sweetfeed in each spot.  Then I called the horses.  They didn't come, which wasn't a big surprise.  But I went out, brought them in and let them eat, then go back out a couple times during the afternoon.  I had enough daylight left and the cow-tank was still filling, so I figured I might as well give it another go.  About 15 cows lined up along the corral panels - including the bull - and blew snot at the horses.  The ponies ignored them.  Good ponies! 

They got a drink and then trailed back out again.  I left them out overnight, since I'd had them in the corral during my airport run.  When I checked them at sunrise this morning I decided to see if they'd figured out "Come on" yet.  They were dozing midway down the fence, but ears pricked when I called.  By the time I had the last half-cup distributed I could hear hoofbeats heading my way, and the first nose, Thunder's, was rounding the barn corner in very short order.  Smart ponies!  Nothing like food to encourage that mental click - lol!

Cat 1

Cat 2


Kellie said...

Man have you been busy..

Interesting to think about having calves this time of year. My folks down in OK, just had three born in the last week and their temps are pretty mild yet.

Our cows always keep an eye on the horses. We had them all in the same pen for a bit when we re-planted the pasture and the horses really bullied the cows for food. The cows probably think the horses are plotting to get in and gorge on their food again lol

SunnySD said...

It seems really early to be calving to me, too - it's a lot warmer down here, but I suspect these may not have been planned calves.

I know what you mean about the horses eying the cow bales - the grass (or whatever) is always greener in the other guy's feeder! When the horses were in SD, G never liked them out with the cows because they'd chase the cows off the bales and pick out all the best hay.

Down here they feed a lot of cane, which doesn't agree with horses from what I understand, so they won't be sharing even if they want to!