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Joey Went Home

November 22, 2013
Joey and friends

Joey and friends

Joey went home today – and I am glad.  Bull Guy was supposed to come today at 2:00 to fetch Joey so at about 10:00 I loaded some hay to use as bait to “catch” the cows and Joey and put them in a paddock near the gate for easy pickup.  I drove over to the corral to feed the heifers that are in lockdown, and out of the corner of my eye, I see my daughter walking briskly across the field…she was supposed to come over to help with Joey when I honked.  I figured by her gait that Bull Guy was on his way.  My plan was to build a wide lane from the corral over to the strip where the cows were, throw out some hay, and go get the cows.  Joey always brings up the rear so I was going to lead the cows into their paddock/lane area and close of the fence behind them cutting Joey off at the pass.  Once we got them separated we would throw out a few flakes of hay for Joey, build a back fence for him, and have him “corralled” for Bull Guy to throw a rope on.  The wide lane also was for combining the heifers back in with the herd after Joey was on his way.

I was right, I hadn’t got to the corral yet when he called the house (we only have a landline, no cells) saying he would arrive in about 45 minutes.  So we had to scurry a bit and divide up the tasks, I finished my fencing while she spread the hay for the cows and stuck a few flakes for Joey out of sight of the cows.  When all was ready I went and got the cows, which was an easy task consisting of opening a gate and walking them back through their grazed strip to the gate for the lane.  Joey as I suspected was lolly gagging and doing bull stuff like rubbing dirt all over his poll and face.  Perfect timing, cows filed by, I closed the fence, Joey showed up, Ruthless threw his hay over the fence.  I quickly built a back fence.

I sent Ruthless back to the house in case Bull Guy called again, and I waited with Joey and the cows.  And I waited, and waited.  I decided to just chill, although it is sunny it’s pretty brisk, it was a pretty nice time of day to wait.  Plus if I got Joey out of here before lunch that would free up my afternoon.  It was good time for reflection,  I like cows for coworkers, and they have trained me to work them.  By observing their habits, working cows can be pretty enjoyable.  You can hardly force them to do things they don’t want, it’s just easier to work with their nature.

Bull Guy finally got there, and after catching Joey, we had nice little chat about how smart cows are, and how so much of the time people call them stupid.   He beamed when I told him Joey mooed when he heard his truck.  I was relieved to witness Joey being only a tad bit “bad” about being caught, and once he had a rope on his neck he seemed to be well aware that his owner was a little frail.  That might have been my imagination, but that is how it appeared.  Joey was a perfect gentleman, loading perfectly, actually better than most saddle horses.  I was very relieved though to close that door and latch him in.

I’m sitting here writing this because while Joey was good, my cows had to get all goofy when it came time to go back to their old grazing strip.  I was going to come back, enjoy lunch and finish up a post on our water system and my day yesterday, but it’s just after 1:30 and my pedometer reads 10,362.  Usually at lunchtime it’s in the 6K range.  That extra 4K is from chasing cows!  Many things on the farmstead just require you to walk away and come back to the task, yesterday I flooded my truck, so I know just chill, go do something else and come back.  It was the same today with my recalcitrant cows.  I chased them a bit, got mad and then I just had to walk away.  My daughter had come back over to help with the heifers, and she asked me if I needed more help.  I didn’t think so, so I waved her off.  Stupid me, smart cows.

My walking away consisted of going to the opposite  side of the pasture and making their new paddock, I needed to do it, I was just changing the order of my tasks.  My cow 101 told me that if I go walking off and they see me building their new fence, they will be more than happy to listen to me when I get done.  Thankfully it worked, they were over their little bit of excitement and pecking order reestablishment and were happy to now go through the gate that had so stymied them a half an hour before.  See, they do have me trained.  Phew, now, I can relax a little, no bull breathing down my back during paddock shift, and everyone is settled.  Chapter closed.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2013 3:47 pm

    I bought 7 cows and a bull from the estate of Terry, the farmer up the road who was eaten by his pigs last autumn. Junior, the black angus bull, had been hand-raised by Terry and is a very skritchable beast.

    Since he gave me all girls, and I’ll be wanting to keep one or two or so, and since I need to get control of when we’re dropping calves, and since I really don’t have a place to keep a bull separate from my beef cows and my milk cow, and since I’m not so sure Junior would continue to be such a lovely gentleman when kept alone, I knew he was going to have to go. Everyone said “hamburger”. But I found someone who wanted a black angus bull the day after I had targeted having Junior someplace else, and now Junior is with 24 new ladies.

    Due to stupid human tricks (Junior is not halter-trained or rope trained), it took us three tries – we had to convince him to get into the corral three times, to get him on the trailer. New owner, both when he met Junior the first time and on loading him up for his trip to his new farm, said Junior was the very nicest and well-behaved bull he had ever ever seen.

    Sounds like your bull guy has nice bulls too! You’ve been saying so, but it’s great hearing the story of Joey’s egress. I like having him trained to a rope – that’s pretty cool.

    • November 22, 2013 10:50 pm

      That sounds like a great place for your guy. That’s the sad part about getting a bull, you have to find home for them every three years or get new cows. I’ve never had a ornery beef bull, knock on wood. Some have been real sweeties. This guy’s bulls are all trained to lead. I’ve never been that brave to lead them, but they have all been great while here. Gentle, quiet and obedient. But I am still glad Joey went home today.

      Heard that story about Terry, sad 😦

  2. November 22, 2013 7:11 pm

    I’m bull free at the moment, and I feel free, lol. I cannot even imagine being bold enough to halter and lead a bull, even one I raised myself.

  3. Barb in CA permalink
    November 23, 2013 6:51 pm

    I am still trying to get past Marilyn’s first sentence. I must sound like a complete idiot, but if pigs will eat their owners, isn’t that a lot like keeping a bear? No disrespect intended to that poor farmer. I just had no idea how dangerous pigs are. Matron, I understand your healthy respect for the bulls, but you’ve never mentioned any fear of your pigs. Is it only boars that are so dangerous? Wow, what a terrible way to die.

    • November 23, 2013 10:48 pm

      Barb, I guess we’ve all seen The Wizard of Oz, even so I think it’s fairly rare, but still what a way to go 😦 Chickens would be just as bad – I stabbed myself in the head with my pocketknife once while feeding the cows, and I realized that time if I did this around the chickens and passed out, my eyeballs would probably be pecked out or worse. I felt like the cows were a little safer to be incapacitated around. I think hungry pigs sow or boar could be dangerous. I’ve never kept full-size pigs for very long, so I’ve never worried about our pigs.

    • November 24, 2013 1:21 pm

      Barb, a couple of thoughts – one of Terry’s pigs was known to be difficult, and there are breeds of pigs that have gentle dispositions. I raise Gloucester Old Spot pigs in a small way, on pasture. You can find old pictures of GOS boars with children sitting on top of them. I would not want to be incapacitated and unable to move in the pig area – they are omnivores – but I don’t live in fear of my pigs attacking me. And I try to arrange how I feed them so they can get to the food without knocking me over.

      We all hope Terry was already dead (heart attack / stroke) or completely unaware when it happened. Appreciate your farmers – it’s more of an adventure than you realize :-/

    • November 24, 2013 11:00 pm


      My dad raised hogs. I think the danger level goes up with larger herds, and how you act/handle/interact with them. Dad pastured his from spring through fall, with daily checks to haul water and feed. Automatic waterers and feeders are great for saving time and effort. But keeping hogs used to folk walking through, checking them, makes them more, well, domesticated.

      Confined, especially when they get bigger (older), and the individual pig gets stronger, more able to disrupt your day. Dad found that sows that weren’t overly fleshy were more fertile, and raised healthier hogs — but restricting the amount of feed made feeding time more physical. Dad only kept sows for two years — he didn’t want sows as big as a four or six year old sow can get. Then, two, he constantly adjusted his breeding mix, so turning over the sow herd every two years let him keep up on the genetic diversity and quality goals he worked for.

      A hog can be spooked, just like a horse or cow. Get a big herd spun up even for a short time, and the chance of physical mishap increases. And, pigs in confinement, like chickens, can be carnivorous. Feral hogs that have gone wild are pretty well omnivorous — that capacity is there in all of them.

    • wondering permalink
      November 26, 2013 9:41 am

      My dad gave up on pigs after they dragged a new-born calf out of its mother’s stall and ate it. The calf was lying next to the wall, and they had just enough room to drag it under and chew, and of course the momma cow couldn’t get at them because she was stopped by the fence. (Our stalls did not have solid walls, built more like fences. After that the pig pen got solid walls, but none of us really liked pigs after that, so they went off to the auction not too much later.)

  4. November 24, 2013 4:26 pm

    I have a very nice Dexter bull if anyone is interested in borrowing him (Central Oregon). I had to sell my girls when we moved here from SoCal but I didn’t want to get rid of him because he is so tractable. I’m just waiting til I can afford to buy another cow or two.

  5. Barb in CA permalink
    November 25, 2013 7:04 am

    Thanks, everyone, for the info. I had no idea. It’s nice to know some breeds tend to be more gentle. And it does make sense that the danger would increase with larger herds, as Brad said. But I’ll never think of pigs (or chickens) they same way again. Thank you to all who raise these animals responsibly, humanely and safely. It IS much harder than I know, I’m sure!

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