My cows are finally on the back forty, and their calves are not.
Every fall, for more than the last number of falls than I care to remember, I've had a plan. Upon returning from pasture, I've wanted to pen the cows and calves into corrals, keeping them in the smaller batches that they spent the summer, and arrived home in. Then, I could bring each of those pens of cows and calves in, one at a time, wean the calves, treat the cows, and turn all of the cows into one bigger pen until they adjusted to being calf-less, then eventually turn them out back where they can crap freely and we don't have to haul it out in the spring.
This grand plan has worked out exactly......well, zero times. Until this year that is.
There are a number of reasons for this. Most notably, is that I'm a bit lazy. Other than that, I usually don't have any pens ready when it's time for the cows to come home. Other times, we've gotten a huge dump of snow or it's been bitterly cold and I've sent the cows, along with their calves out back where it's easier to maintain them and I can set up some shelters for protection. We'd bring them back in, sometime in January, and sell the calves straight off the cows.
However, this fall, like a one time in a 7000 year alignment of planets, things sort of worked out. For one thing, Middle Son now works at a lumber mill, and I got a lift of fence planking on the cheap. Secondly, I was able to exploit the manpower (and womanpower) of my wife and The Boy to drive nails and have most of the pens ready for animals. And thirdly, we were able to get last years manure cleaned out of the pens in hasty fashion, in turn making those newly repaired pens available for cattle.
So, even though it did get bitterly cold, and we did get a huge dump of snow, and had to dig out all of our working pens, I resisted the urge to just turn everything out back, yet again. Over a few days about a week and a half ago, we brought those cattle up, pen by pen, and weaned our calves.
Before turning the cows into the weaning pen, we ran them through the alley and treated them for lice and worms, as well as trimming the hair covering their ear tags for easier identification when they calve.
It's not entirely the most difficult of jobs, weaning calves. Truth be told, it's actually more difficult to keep them apart once they've been separated. During the process of handling cattle, I tend to see things unfold around me, much in the same manner that complex mathematical equations, and geometric graphs appear in the air around geniuses as they solve, save the world, life and death situations in the movies. Unfortunately, as I'm definately not a genius, me running after cattle, chasing imaginary arrows to gates that haven't been opened yet, most likely has completely the opposite effect. Leaving those around me with the impression that I'm more like somebody that should be eating pastey soup with a spoon sewn to a mitten than someone about to save the world. Or at the very least, handle cows.
Despite that, everything went quite well and the cows are now nicely settled in the back field without their calves, which are in their own pen in the yard. I've decided to keep the calves at home for a while and feed them some grain to put a bit more weight on them before taking them to market, even though the prices are currently better than I've ever seen in my life. I made that decision based on a set of complex mathematical equations and geometric graphs that seem to be floating in the air around my head.
Of course, like most of my other marketing decisions, this may not turn out to have been the smartest thing to do, when all is said and done. Maybe I should get my wife to go over those figures,
...........I always sucked at imaginary math.