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No Bull

November 25, 2014
Reese, 8 days post castration

Reese, 8 days post castration

The rental bull has went home, and the calves have been castrated.

Not that the bull has been a problem on the daily fence moves, it’s more that you have a bull in your pasture.  And you have to be on the alert.  A bull is a bull, despite that some folks swear that they have a tame bull.  We’re right at the number of cows that it hardly pays to keep a bull year round, and it would be a pain to artificially inseminate (AI) the cows.

So it’s a relief that Joey the bull went home.  It was also a relief to see six testicles on the ground in the corral.  I know it really bugs people to think of cutting a calf, but I have to be honest and say I have never seen a bad outcome from the real thing, but I have seen bad results (death from infection, stags, etc.) from banding.  Burdizzo clamps are popular too with the bloodless crowd, and I can just say to each their own.   I have a pair (pun intended) that a friend gifted me, and they are in the box with other bovine related tools I have that probably will not get used.

No worse for wear

No worse for wear

And to make all the DIY’ers cringe we had the vet out to cut the calves, which also coincided with having our old horse put down.  Odd day, corralling calves and putting a faithful companion to sleep.  A day of sure things.  My husband has grown weary of killing our dogs, milk cows and horses when the “time” comes.  And we do not begrudge the vet, a professional, his living.  If I want him to bail me out in an emergency, I need to make sure he gets the bread and butter calls too.  Sure things mean blood in some places and not in others.  As a farmer you steer the destiny of many animals, a botched banding job could mean the sacrificed life of a future cow who gets bred too young by a “steer.”  The bull’s fate is sealed when he is born, not much potential really, even if you entertain the idea of oxen, you still need to castrate.  A heifer can potentially live to a ripe old age unless she is bred too young.  As for the horse, going out without your owner being nervous and twitchy can’t be bad thing.  Cost?  Yeah lets see, six calf nards are much cheaper to remove than two dog nards…and horse euthanasia?  Expensive and priceless all rolled into one.  RIP sweet Willy, we still feel your presence in the barn and the pasture…


21 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2014 9:26 am

    You got a little tear of of me there!

  2. November 25, 2014 9:45 am

    This is life on your farm… some don’t understand. I’m sorry about your horse.

  3. Bee permalink
    November 25, 2014 9:49 am

    Hard, hard, especially for Ruthless — I could tell she loved that old horse. A friend asked me once how I could handle loving and losing my animals. I reminded him that death is always looking over your shoulder; you curse, and you cry, and you grieve and you go on. I took Latin in high school, and was struck by the old classic antiphon, “media vita in morte sumus — In the midst of life we are in death.” So true. My sympathies.

  4. November 25, 2014 10:02 am

    Yep – we’re comfortable doing some of our own procedures – not so much with others. Having a good relationship with a top notch vet is worth it’s weight in gold.
    Seems to me the older I get the harder it is to euthanize long time livestock/pets. Nice to have the vet.

  5. Emily Summer permalink
    November 25, 2014 10:08 am

    We have had the vet put down our horse friends, too. Falling asleep while eating favorite molasses feed is not a bad way to go. But it is sad to say goodbye.

  6. November 25, 2014 10:33 am

    Sad to hear about your horse, good and faithful friends like that can be hard to come by. It is interesting to hear you on how you deal with the animals when it is time. We are just so grateful that here vets bills are not so high, but then we feel guilty about calling out our vet to put an animal down, as she won’t accept payment. She believes her job is to treat animals and that is what she gets paid for. Bless her! She has a very sweet heart our vet.

  7. cptacek permalink
    November 25, 2014 11:01 am

    Ach. Putting an old horse out to pasture and then having to decide when the humane thing to do is put it down. 😦 A tough decision even when you know it is the right one.

    I won a horse in second grade and it lived ~25 years. All my nieces and nephews started on that horse when they were first ready to start riding. Even though I was late married and later mothered, my son got to ride him a year or so before he died. I am glad we got to do that.

  8. November 25, 2014 11:15 am

    Sorry for the loss of your lovely horse. Even when the time has clearly come, they leave such a hole behind….in the barn, in the pasture, and in your heart.

  9. Lucy permalink
    November 25, 2014 1:38 pm

    Run with the angels, Willy!

    We put our oldest horse down the day before the 16.5 inches of snow. She had a terrible time keeping her weight up last winter and then this fall she refused hay, plus her geriatric malabsorption problem had blown way out of control. Very hard; we had her for 23 1/2 years. She was a huge part of our lives. Our son married the daughter of the lady we got the horse from.

  10. November 25, 2014 2:34 pm

    Oh I’m so sorry about Willy. We had to put our old boy Pride down this Spring. Unfortunately he got a twist, there was nothing to be done. We were there when he was brought into this world, and there when he left it. He was just short of 32, and looked pretty well the same as Willy, just a little bit less white on his face. That was a tough day.

  11. Clare permalink
    November 25, 2014 6:28 pm

    Very eloquently spoken. It’s a hard to do thing to put a pet down, but the right thing to do when it’s time. Take care.

  12. Deairdre Miller permalink
    November 25, 2014 7:49 pm

    I am sorry for your loss. I know how hard it can be. Working for a vet, I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. I find my own decisions of what I do and what I have the vet do to be strange, but they work for me. Take care.

  13. November 26, 2014 4:22 am

    Aww, sorry about Willy, that’s one of the bitter notes of having animal friends.

    My old horses have been slowly leaving me one by one. I figured they worked hard for me during my hard riding days and I owe them a decent retirement. I’m down to my last apply gelding. Mean as spit but at one time, he was the best riding horse ever.

    I’ve got the same appointment in mind for my farm in the very near future. 10 bull calves to be cut and possibly time to help an old friend pass in peace.

  14. Bev permalink
    November 26, 2014 8:15 am

    Castrating your way and you know for sure it is done right! For sure the mind set changes for the better.
    It’s been a year since we had to put our mare Sassy down. We had a friend say how could you do that. How could we not. We shared a wonderful life of 34 years. You don’t want to see someone you care about suffer pain on a daily basis. We were thankful for our vet, too. We still miss hearing her knicker when it is time to feed.
    We will be on the road shortly. Happy Thanksgiving. Know you will count each and everything on your table and give a sigh of satisfaction.

  15. November 26, 2014 11:34 am

    I am sorry to hear about your horse. I hope that you’ll forgive me if I seem indelicate or insensitive, but what does one do with a horse carcass in the state of Oregon? You’re so good about teaching us things, I wondered if you could tell us what has to happen now.

    • November 26, 2014 12:14 pm

      Paula, no not insensitive, inquisitive. We buried him, which involves heavy equipment and a large area away from any water sources etc. Letting wildlife feed is an option also if your farm is big enough, but from personal experience you don’t want to do that with a friend, wild animals have a way of dragging stuff around and you just might run across it on a hike. Maybe a cow part wouldn’t be so bad, but I would hate to see a horse head in the woods…

  16. Barb in CA permalink
    November 26, 2014 4:14 pm

    Matron, did we get a calf count this year? I don’t remember reading the final tally, maybe because they were so spread out. And only two bull calves (besides Reese)? So sorry to hear about Willy. I know Jane will miss him too.

    • November 26, 2014 6:42 pm

      Barb, final count was 7, all the first round were girls, and two boys from the second bull. I’m not liking the spread of ages 😦 Jane looked for Willy for a couple of days…now she sticks close to the calves for company.

  17. Jennifer permalink
    November 26, 2014 6:13 pm

    Sorry about Willy. Our Penny will be 32 in January and she’s still getting around. Cranky old lady. I dread the day her quality of life starts to go, although I fear it will be soon. She and I have little conversations, little moments that only older ladies can have together. It’s hard to say goodbye to a gentle, trusted soul, regardless of whether they be equine, canine or human.

  18. November 30, 2014 8:20 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss. It’s hard to say goodbye to a companion animal!

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