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The “treatment”

April 3, 2008

I’ve been working on posts all day.  Literally.  I mean fencing, not blog stuff.  But blog posts I have on the back burner are:  an update on some of our laying hens who went on to fame in the big city, and what the “hay queen” thinks about hay.  Hay Queen is a derogatory name a “friend” gave me.

Here’s what’s going on today, it is like we didn’t have 3″ of fresh snow yesterday.

First spotted 3/24 – back today demanding food.
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 Indian Plum – this is the only wild thing blooming for the hummingbirds.
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Red-tailed Bumble bee, they are plentiful and do a fair amount of pollinating.  This grape hyacinth and our flowering quince are the only garden flowers blooming.  The hummingbird prefers the quince. 
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Salamander larvae are growing.
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This will be my life for the next 8 months – electric fencing materials.
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Straightening bent posts.
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We have what we have dubbed the “treatment” for the cows.  We like to use herd dynamics to either make wild calves, tame or tame calves, “wild.”  Bringing the cows and calves into the feeding shed usually works on the wild ones.  They are confined to a small area and have to rely on us to feed them.  During the summer grazing season, even though the calves are in small paddocks, if they’re skittish, they usually remain so.   It usually takes all winter, but they are weaned now and have learned we feed them, not Mom.  This year, our tamest cow has the wildest calf.  She calved while they were in the woods, so I left her for a few days.  She had bedded her calf down and we didn’t see it for 3 days.  By that age, if there has been no human interaction, they are pretty wild.  We had also used a Gelbvieh bull the last two years and the calves have more of a Angus disposition.  (read not as calm)  We switched back to Hereford last year. 

This works well on the milk cow calves too.  They are usually too tame and in the case of my milk cow, we left her horns on.  Before she was was of breeding age, we pastured her with out beef heifers of the same age.  They established a pecking order and she was at the top.  When it came time, we put all the heifers in with the herd.  She quickly lost her status as head bully, there were several cows that didn’t care if she had horns or not.  She has been polite ever since. 

What doesn’t work is putting tame calves in with the herd, during the winter feeding period.  It is too confining and if they start fighting, you can have serious problems because the less dominant individual cannot get away.  If there is a place they can get in a predicament (usually upside down and cast) they will.  New farmers take heed:  make your gates/doors wide enough to get in equipment to drag out dead animals (planning for rigor mortis).  We have watched our cows fight for dominance and it is interesting to say the least.  Their children get in the act until someone finally concedes.

I want to move the cows to pasture on Friday.  We have to take them down the county road to their first pasture.  We usually block the road with vehicles and do the move when we think there will be the least amount of traffic.  Seeing a herd of cattle going down the road is nostalgic and necessary to us, but not to most people we have encountered while trying to do this.  It used to be different, we rented pastureland 2 miles away and would trail the cows there in the spring and bring them home in the fall.  This was before the farm in between, subdivided their land and before bicycling became a national pastime.  Adding insult to injury, there seems to be a great game stealing the county issued CATTLE CROSSING signs on our road.  The county seems to think I’m stealing them!  As if, I not liable enough if someone gets hurt by my cows on the road.   So, I bought some COB with molasses and I’m training everyone to come when I shake that can!  The cows come when I call, but those newly tamed calves have never seen grain – but when they see momma salivating, things get serious.  So, even if we don’t feed grain, I like having some on hand, just is case.  I’ve put gravel in a coffee can and shook it to avoid disaster.  You only need one to pay attention, to turn the herd around.  Gates get left open once in awhile, or break.  Good insurance.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2008 12:17 pm

    Even though I grew up in Oklahoma where there are a LOT of cows, I had no idea they would fight like that. They have always seemed so sedentary…but I suppose I would get up and fight if I needed to and I’m sedentary…when I am not gardening that is… 🙂 Thanks for the comment on my post…hope the bug doesn’t eat too much, whatever it is…

  2. matronofhusbandry permalink*
    April 3, 2008 12:58 pm

    Jean, they don’t fight very often, just with newcomers to establish who is the boss. Or if their minerals need adjusting. We haven’t had any “beefs” this winter, everyone is getting along nicely!

    I’ve never seen any damage by the Box Elder, they can be annoying if there are a large number of them, though,

  3. April 4, 2008 2:20 am

    Well, good to know all the way around! Thanks for the info…

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