Crazy Cow Country Farm

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I’m here to help

April 16th, 2008 · No Comments · Uncategorized

“I’m here to help” has always been one of my little sayings and I mostly use it when I’ve gone and shown the world how much I don’t belong on a farm.  You know, like the time the farmer and I were talking about having him plant our farm and he mentioned it would be on a crop-share or payment basis and I asked how much we would pay him?  And then he was all like, “No (looking at me strangely) – I would pay you.”  Yeah, like that time.  Now sometimes my failings are funny and sometimes they’re costly or perhaps even a wee bit dangerous, but hey, I’m a city girl and what the hell do I know about farm living.  It’s a rough way to get an education but I like sharing these stories because I enjoy laughing at myself and I know My Damn Brother In Law, Nathan enjoys laughing at me and, after all, I’m here to help.  So here’s a little tidbit to once again exhibit my farm failings.  Just keeping it real folks.

As you know, our beloved pet cow calved in June and presented us with the adorable Sparky.  Sparky has turned into a spoiled bossy little thing and her mama’s taught her all her bad habits like growling at her people when she wants to come out to the pasture around the house, or the water needs filled, or she’d like more grain, or she saw us drive by with more hay, or, or, well pretty much all the time.  Well a few weeks ago we noticed Moo had dropped weight.  Considerable weight.  We wormed her, gave her vitamins, thoroughly checked her over and we, with our infinite cow knowledge, couldn’t see any reason for it.  We added richer brome to her diet and increased her grain.  No change.  I google searched my little heart out but other than herd illnesses with specific symptoms, couldn’t seem to find anything online.  So it was time for desperate measures.

I went into the feed store and found Mike, the owner and the friendliest helper you can imagine.  Well after about 30 minutes of looking through a book and narrowing down Moo’s condition score (about a 3-4, and I didn’t even KNOW there was scoring for cows!) he started asking detailed questions about her diet and environment.  Mike’s baffled.  I mean, I was really throwing him for a loop.  I think the poor guy was about ready to offer a home visit just to see this cow and get to the bottom of the story.  Then a light-bulb went off and he says, “Oh!  How long ago did you wean the calf off her.”

Uhhhhh, we didn’t.

Poor Mike.  It had just hit home how truly clueless I am.

I will attempt to redeem myself by saying that I nursed three children and suffered immensely for years in the process of said nursing.  At a point I simply decided, you’ve had enough, and weaned them without killing a single child.   I naturally assumed ALL nursing/mothers did this.  I was wrong.  I was apparently so very, very wrong.  But I believe in correcting my mistakes and left the store armed with the information and promptly called Ed to relay it all to him.  In my defense, Ed was as surprised at I was that humans needed to intervene in this little weaning activity so feel free to chuckle at him as well.  Then we set about the plan for the weaning.

It was really a very simple plan.  Beautiful in it’s ease and lack of expense.  We discussed things and since the pasture the girls are in is already lined with hot-wire we decided to simple cut the pasture in half with another hot-wire, separate the girls, wait about a month, and watch Moo fatten back up.  Ed spent an afternoon setting temporary posts and stringing the wire.  For good measure he added another so there were two.  We spent the day watching Sparky test the wire and yielding back when she was shocked.  She glared and did a little growling at us but Moo seemed just fine.

Darkness arrived and we were out on the patio looking over the farm when the bawling started.  We were thinking that since they could still see each other, perhaps even touch noses, there wouldn’t be a lot of bawling but oh how wrong we were. There was bawling.  Lots and lots of bawling, from both parties.  Then Sparky decided she’d had enough, took a running start, took the shock, and went slam through the fence back to mama.  And guess what she ran right to?  Yeah.  You got it.

Then they both just stared at us like, Nice try but you’ll never separate us!

So.  Ed’s thought is that we’ll actually have to contain Sparky.  He suggested using the roundpen and I threatened him with no home-cooked meals, divorce, sending the boys to work with him FOREVER, and a multitude of other punishments before he gave up on that.  I think we’re going to build a small pen next to Moo’s pasture and hope that’ll hold her.

I’ll keep you posted.

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