Laying in bed late on a weekend morning, luxuriating in that place between wakefulness and sleep. Not having to get up yet.
Until the children ran to the door. “There are cows in the yard!”. That ended the restfulness.
At the front door the children held the curtain back staring out the window excitedly. We went to look too. Looking back was a yearling steer. A few of them. They weren’t in the yard so much as knocking on our front door!
So much for breakfast.
We rushed out the door and pushed them back towards the corrals. One of them had gotten a gate unlatched. Again. This was not the first time. Nor the same gate or latch as the other times. Someone is way too good at this.
We could already see some of them out in the pasture with the cows. The yard was covered in hoof prints. Hay had been thoroughly enjoyed. Everything was a mess. But the steers were happy and apparently ready for their breakfast. They ran happily to await it.
They were all out of their normal corral. It seemed like the perfect time to rearrange.
The heifers have been in a corral at the bottom of the hill. This winter has been so wet and snowy that corral has some really deep places. We’ve been talking about moving them but it hasn’t worked out, until now.
Yearlings are notoriously difficult to handle. They are curious, more like to follow something than to move away from it. But only certain things then they take off running the opposite direction. With cattle, the grown up kind, you move slightly and they respond with tiny adjustments to their path of travel. It’s very minute and precise when everyone has the dance down well. Yearlings completely reverses their path of travel if you push them at all. They ping pong off fences like a golf ball hit by an over enthusiastic toddler.
Moving the heifers would be no small feat even inn the small area.
Not usually at least.
My husband and father in law went into the pen with the fourwheelers. I waited outside the gate. Once they got around the calves I called Ghost. The little white calf trotted out of the herd and towards me at top little calf legged speed. My other bottle calf, Blossom, followed right behind her. The rest of the herd, curious and, like any other teenager, intent on following everything the rest of the herd is doing, came right behind.
In the rush too get out of the house I hadn’t strapped on my treat bag like I usually do. Ghost had done perfectly but I had nothing to reward her with! Never fear. My hands are always attached and hard to forget. I went to scratching all those itchy cow spots. She leaned into it, tongue going like crazy. Blossom wasn’t interested in scratches. She would sniff my hands looking for a treat but shied away if I moved towards her. We stopped scratching for a moment and walked farther out of the gate to let all the others follow, then scratched some more. With a little encouragement from behind the heifers all came neatly out of the pen. We shut the gate and turned them up the hill towards their new home. Right next door.
As the herd bucked and galloped ahead in their enthusiasm, Ghost stayed with me, walking with my hand on her withers, shoulder? do cattle have withers? The fourwheelers came up along side. My father in law was trying to move her along with the others. I took advantage of the moment to assure her that fourwheelers aren’t scary and she can ignore them if she wants. All while laughing on the inside about the trouble it could cause. Knowing though that we may ride along side them someday and wanting her not to be worried about it.
The heifers ran through their gate, bucking their way to the far corner to explore. Ghost stayed with me for more petting. Then we went off to find more steers. It wasn’t how I had intended to spend my morning but oh well, it was kind of fun. It would have been more fun horseback but some jobs are better done with fourwheelers. The ice and rough footing would have been hard on a horse. We did find all of the steers. The moving of heifers went well and, once again, the purpose of training cattle was proven.