With winter looking like it is actually here to stay a while this week I made the decision to move all the cattle in the barn on Wednesday January 4th. The forecast was calling for -17 Celsius plus wind chill and the creek looked like it was finally frozen up for the foreseeable future.
Wednesday morning came and the hired man and myself went out to the field and moved the herd in, well most of the heard as there was one hold out that didn’t want to come. When moving cattle I don’t usually worry about that straggler because as soon as his buddies are gone they usually play catch up pretty quick.
NOT THIS GUY! He make the stead fast decision that he was not going past the gate that leads to the drove way to the barn and come hell or hi water he was staying in the pasture. Now when I first started farming not that many years ago I would spend an unbelievable amount of time chasing cattle around fields trying to get them to do what I wanted them to do. I quickly learned if they want to do what they want to do they are going to do it. These days I no longer waste more than five or ten minutes trying to get a stubborn steer to do what I want and most of that is just pointing in the direction I want it to go. So after a few minutes I said bullocks to you and left him in the pasture for the night with the assumption he would be more than happy to go to the warm barn with food and water the next day.
Thursday January 5th – This day I have to run around to butchers and won’t get to the steer until the afternoon. I ask the hired man to see what he can do, alas he has no luck. When I get back after lunch we both give it a try and find the little bugger is still full of piss and vinegar and runs down to the frozen creek crossing the ice neither of us are yet willing to dare to go on. Again I’m not spending more than 10 minutes messing around with loner steer as there are chore to be done and tasks to complete, he will be really hungry tomorrow! Right?
Friday January 6th – Today I have made plans to spread manure and also promised to spread manure on a friend’s field for his veggies. Great conditions to spread manure as there is no snow and the ground is frozen so won’t leave ruts. Well the tractor breaks, the manure freezes up in the spreader and pretty much anything that can go wrong goes wrong but that is another story for another time. We still have to get this steer inside as its been three days now and the poor thing has been outside with no food and only a little snow / ice to lick for water. This time I bring a bucket of grain with me. Grain to a hungry steer is like crack. I show it to him and he seems interested. I through some on the ground and he nibbles at it and then walks the other way. I though a bit more but he wants nothing to do with it. Again the hired man and myself try to get behind him and give it our best and again it runs and runs and runs.
Saturday January 7th – I have a couple buddies coming down to the farm in the afternoon and maybe with three guys if we can get him into the aisle way we can push him towards the barn and he will not have a hole to escape from as he has done every other day with only me and the hired man. Success we get him up to the first aisle way, three of us behind him, arms stretched wide he is almost up at the gate leading to the barn. The he turns, puts his head down and charges right at my one friend. Intelligently my friend moves and lets him by, as a 180 lbs man will not win the battle with a 600 lbs steer. “well buddy looks like you are spending another night out in the cold” I say and off we go.
Sunday January 8th – I’ve lost sleep thinking about this lone steer outside for 5 days now in the – 20 degree weather with no real food or water. I have visions of going out to the pasture and finding a cowsiclle. Time to try something new! Me and my German Shepard go out to the pasture. Alfie has herded cows before and is quite good at it now, well at least better than he was at first. Today he did amazing and did everything a herding dog should do including listening to me when I gave him commands. Yet that steer just would not come in the right direction. Bamm!!! I had a thought, the other day I tried to lead him with grain. This animal has never had grain he is 100% grass fed. I call the dog off go to the barn and grab a big arm full of hay, walk out to the pasture and now he is interested. Mouthful by mouthful and backwards step by backwards step he is following me. We get to that dreaded gate, the one he has turned around at every single time. He pauses, he wants to turn and run but that hay is just too tempting. I though a bit on the ground and he goes for it, then a bit more a few feet back. His first foot goes though the gate then foot number two. I put the rest of the hay on the ground and slowly walk behind him and shut the gate. By the time I had the gate shut he made the 100 foot or so walk to the barn and went right in by himself. SUCCESS!! And that was my “cow” adventure for this week.