Cattle Shenanigans & Farm Follies!

I never thought cows would be so hilarious.  They just wander around pastures, eating and pooping, right?  Not hardly.  They are always up to something!  Cattle Daddy says their primary mission in life is to try to kill themselves.  I can’t disagree.  I’m like an overbearing cow mom half the time.

Today’s blog is a composition of our most entertaining moments with these guys and gals…never a dull moment on the farm!  Forgive the picture quality, these antics happen when you least expect it!  Photographic perfection is an elusive beast!

Professional Bull Riding Tryouts with Red

One of my earlier cow lessons had to do with cattle behavior.  I had not yet completed my copy of Storey’s Guide to Raising Beef Cattle (my cow bible) and had no concept of bovine behavior.  I was blissfully wandering around the pasture with my lovable grass puppies while Cattle Daddy brought in a round bale.  Everyone gets a little excited about round bales so it’s a great time to watch them.  My babies are all milling around, waiting for dinner and I notice that Ms. Red is slowly making her way toward me with her head bowed low.  Here is my pretty girl…

Red on the Hay! - Copy

Being a dog mom my whole life, I interpreted this as a “play bow” – I mean, what else could it be but a desire to play with me?!  I threw my arms up and welcomed her play bow and she promptly charged me, butt flying back and forth like she was trying out for the next PBR rodeo!  I promptly scrambled up the nearest fence like a bucked rider from a PBR rodeo!  She ran up to the fence and hopped around a bit, sniffed and threw snot in my direction.  I was insulted!  What in the world just happened.  I sat straddling the fence in hurt confusion.  Cattle Daddy cracks the door of the tractor and yells “You can’t let her get away with that!”  and shuts the door.

And what, pray tell, am I supposed to do?  Swat her nose with a newspaper??!!  Then I remember!  Storey’s Guide says when you need to move cattle, you put your arms out and look bigger and walk towards them.  Okay.  So, if I do that and yell, maybe she will think twice about killing me.  I hop off the fence and she looks toward me with curiosity.  I point at her and say, “No ma’am!” in my best angry mom tone.  She walks over to me, pretending to be my friend again, and down goes her head.  I throw my arms out and yell at her, and she keeps coming, so I walk toward her and poke her nose and jump away!  She freaked!  She jumped back, I jumped forward pretending I had a clue, and she backed up and I kept going forward, and then she sniffed angrily and walked away.  Victory!  I think.  What if she’s made at me?

I left her to sulk for the day and we were back to being friends the next day.  She still pushes me around with her head, and I still push at her nose, but it’s all friendly now.  Cattle Daddy said she’s going to hospitalize me someday, but that’s okay, she’s so pretty.

Here she is trying to head butt Barn Cat – pick on the smaller target I guess!

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Water Trough or Swimming Pool?

Another bright and sunny day on the farm, I head out to check the herd and give them some feed.  I mean, no matter how bad your day is going, there is nothing better to turn your mood around than grazing grass puppies.  So there I am, checking them out and everyone is walking around and mooing for me to hurry up with the feed (we can’t go near the barn without being moo’d to death) when I hear a crash and a splash!  I look over and Mouse is IN the water trough looking as confused and I am!  (I now keep my phone on me at all times to snap these gems!)

Mouse going for a swim!

Look at this face!  He is NOT a happy camper!!

Mouse in the trough!

After a bit more splashing and him just standing in the water, I realize that he may be stuck!  What the heck am I supposed to do now?!  As I’m deliberating my options, he starts panicking and then hops right out!  Okay then…cows can jump.  Problem solved.  I still have no idea what happened, but okay.  Next!

Holy Heifer! 

As previously stated, the herd tends to get a bit excited about their round bales.  They see the tractor coming and they run toward the gate to welcome the tractor, usually trying to eat the bale before it’s off the spikes! Nom nom!

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Now, as Cattle Daddy removes the old hay ring, there is a nice pile of the remaining bale left.  The herd seems to love this little pile almost as much as the new bale!  They like to play Queen of the Hay Pile and fight over who gets to stand in the middle.  Bessie and Nellie are the biggest gals, and sometimes Red gets in the fight too, running around and butting each other.

Excited about hay!

New hay!  New hay!  Running and jumping like maniacs!  I am REALLY surprised at how much cows run.  I’ve never seen such hilarity.  Who knew!?

Hay Mound - Copy

Well, Bessie seems to get the upper hand in the competition, and on one particular day, she aggressively takes the top of the hay pile, loses her balance and goes tumbling hooves over head off the pile and lands upside-down, wedged next to the hay ring!  She lays there for a moment, contemplating her predicament, then flips back over and rights herself!  I’d love to know what she was thinking in that moment she was wedged.  Most unfortunately, I did not get a photograph of this event, but I’m sure there are more to come!

King of the Hay Ring

The hay ring is obviously our herds’ favorite place to be since most of our follies involve this area.  Once we place the bale, they are on it all day until it’s gone!  I love watching them munching on the hay that we grew and baled for them.  Circle of life stuff!  Love it!  And I can see our grass puppies all day from our back windows and have a constant source of entertainment!  So, I’m passing by our windows one day, glance up and see that our bull calf, Frat Boy, is INSIDE the hay ring!!

Frat in the Hayring - Copy

What in the holy hellcats??  What if he can’t get out??  Again, as I’m standing there wondering what I could possibly do with this situation (and snapping pictures because Cattle Daddy will NEVER believe this) Frat turns around and climbs through a seemingly impossibly small opening in the hay ring.

Frat exiting hay ring - Copy

Well then.  This becomes his favorite place to be and others have started joining him!  What the heck!?  This is NOT how it works!!

And here is a pic of Dolly, because she’s so pretty!

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This concludes my farm follies for now…I’m sure they’re cooking up new things as we speak!  And if YOU have some great farm follies, please comment and share your laughs with us!  We’d love to hear that we aren’t the only ones with a herd of clowns!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Calf Nuts! Turning Bulls into Steers!

Hello friends! Crazy Cow Lady here with more farming shenanigans!  This one might be a little hard on the male population, but ya’ll be okay!  So let’s get to the adventure!

I’ll start with another newbie failure to admit.  I did not know there were different genders of cows (bows head in shame).  Yes, I heard terms like steers and bulls, but I thought they were, well, slang perhaps?

Hush.  I’m new.  Anyway, I learned very fast.  For those veteran farmers, just bear with me as I explain cattle gender basics.  The first batch of our wild cows were heifer calves (females that hadn’t had babies yet).  When they have babies, they are upgraded to a cow.  The second batch were the bottle bulls (young calves that still have their…well…calf nuts).  Bulls are guys that get to keep their junk and go on to father babies because they have nice qualities to pass on.  A calf is a cattle baby and a yearling is year old calf.

Then we get to steers.  Steers are guys that lose their junk early in life to follow other paths that we shall not mention, unless they become pets like mine and, as Cattle Daddy says, “eat all our profits”.  We are castrating my boys because “we” don’t want more “pets”.  That’s a whole different story…back to the topic at hand!

Today’s story is about our adventure in turning our bottle bulls into steers.  Castration.

Apparently, there are several methods for castration and we opted for the banding method, which seemed the least painful method for the poor little guys.  It does, however, require a horrifying looking tool shown below and a rubber band.

Castration banding tool

Side note:  Cattle Daddy found it necessary to post a Facebook meme with this tool as a warning to teen boys chasing his daughter.

As most of our adventures begin, we declare a day for the deed, gather the necessary tools, a healthy mix of apprehension/optimism, and head out to the barn.  The guys up for banding today are my bottle babies: Boomer, Mouse, and Skunk.  I lure their poor, unsuspecting souls into the barn and we isolate our first victim, Boomer:

Boomer, black cow with a white boomerang shape on forehead

Cattle Daddy coaxes him to lay down and flip over.  I’m in charge of holding him down, so I gently take his shoulders and tell him all will be okay.  Cattle Daddy has his tool banded and ready to go…and starts massaging Boomer’s balls!!  I busted out laughing.  I couldn’t help it, I didn’t see that one coming at all!  My big, bad Cattle Daddy gently massaging balls!!  Bwahahaha!  We must stop for a moment, I cannot go on!!

After taking a minute to compose myself, we attempt to proceed.  Cattle Daddy calmly explaining that the balls had “retreated” and he needed to “coax” them out.  I could barely contain myself.  I was giggling like a schoolboy who heard an adult say boobs for the first time!  Cattle Daddy is shooting daggers at me, he is not amused, but he continues to fondle calf nuts!  Teeheehee!!

Breathe.  Compose.  Proceed.  Okay, so after he massaged (snort) the balls into place and banded him, I was happy to see that he wasn’t too upset about it.  That would be Boomer I’m talking about; Cattle Daddy was still not amused at my giggles.  Boomer kicked around a bit but then went on about his business, much to my relief.  Less than an hour later, we had three steers-in-the-making.  Apparently, sometime in the next 3-4 weeks, the balls are supposed to just shrivel up and fall off, and boom!  We have steers!  I found this much more appealing than having them surgically removed. But wait!  The story doesn’t end there!

Fast-forward 3-4 weeks later and more family from Ohio comes to visit!  They fall in love with the herd, of course, and we are all wandering around the pasture with them.  A member of family from Ohio, identity undisclosed, turns to us while holding up a quarter-sized piece of fur and asks, “what’s this”?  This time, Cattle Daddy joins me in bursting into bwahahahas!

 

We broke the news on the furry object she is holding and thank her for confirming that our bulls are now steers!  She was not amused!!

Thank you for joining me friends!!!  On to the next adventure!!

The Cows Are Out!!

Hello friends!!  Let me tell you, there is not a more terrifying phrase on this earth for a cattle farmer than THE COWS ARE OUT!  This does not mean they are out in the pasture, it means they have escaped the confines of said pasture and are wandering freely.  I just happen to have an example handy.  Two, actually.

Houdini Dolly.  Dolly is one of our smaller sweethearts and Cattle Daddy’s favorite.  She has attitude and loves her feed.  We used to feed her with a separate small red bucket because the others would bully her, and as soon as she saw that red bucket, it was off to the races.  When we decided she was old enough to fend for herself, man did she let us know she didn’t approve!

One day, I came home from work and decided to take the dogs for a walk into the back fields.  They run free and stay close by, and when it’s time to go back, Bully gets the leash because he’s a jerk.  I love him, but he still can be a jerk.  We’re halfway to the back field, approaching the end of the cow pasture, and I see everybody gathered under a far oak tree.  This isn’t particularly strange, they hang out in the shade now and then, but EVERYBODY was down there in a tight circle and mooing.  We move around the edge of the fence and I see somebody is on the WRONG side of the fence.  I whisper “holy shit” to myself because I have two herding dogs that don’t know a damn thing about herding, only chasing.  I make a quick turn and yell “let’s eat” to the dogs and they turn with me.  I snap Bully’s leash on and run them back to the house before they catch on.  I come back outside, slightly panicked and wondering if I should call Cattle Daddy at work.  No.  I got this, because here comes little miss Dolly trotting (wait…do cows trot? jog?) and she’s following my path back to the house.

Dolly the cow walking on the wrong side of the fence
Dolly on the WRONG side of the fence!

What a good girl!  Oh!  Red bucket!  I run to the barn and grab the red bucket and feed, and she follows me right into the pasture!  Victory!!  Disaster averted!

I walk the fence to see where she may have gotten free, finding nothing.  Houdini.  I happened to take a picture of Dolly trotting down the fence and sent it to Cattle Daddy.  Then I called him to brag about my mad skills as a cattlewoman.

The Cows are Out – Second Edition

This morning…yes, this very morning – a story hot off the presses!  I’m working from home and just finished my cherished cup of coffee as the sun rose over the pastures.  I hear mooing.  Odd mooing.  Yes, there are varying degrees of mooing and I had not heard this variation before.  I look outside and I see Mouse standing by the troughs and mooing in the direction of the driveway…what in the world.  Then I hear an answering moo…from the driveway!!  Then I see Bessie and Nelly come around the house, up the driveway!!  Red and Simi are by the barn and tractor equipment!!!  I did not whisper holy shit this time!!  I ran back and forth through the living room and kitchen in a panic, not whispering all kinds of obscenities.  I call Cattle Daddy, because he’s on the way home from work and will come tearing up the driveway like Ricky Bobby at any moment.  He answers and I yell THE COWS ARE OUT!!!  ALLLLLLLL OF THE COWS ARE OUT!!!  PARK AT THE END OF THE DRIVE BECAUSE BESSIE IS IN THE CARPORT!!!  He blurts out some obscenities.  I grab the bread.  He says grab the feed buckets and grain.  Good plan, I gotta go!!  He says he’s ten minutes out.

I grab my bread and head outside to the first group, handing out bread and asking them what in the hell they think they are doing in my sweetest voice.  I grab the feed buckets and everyone starts gathering around.  I go into the barn, hoping to lead them through the other side and back into the pasture.  No go.  They are not digging the barn.  Crap.  I fill a bucket and head back out.  Everyone is waiting on me.  I start walking the LONG way around the front fences to the side gate.  Everyone is following me, but a few start to drift off, sniffing flowers.

I have about half of them following me, so I just go with it.  I lead them into the adjoining pasture, through the gate, and back into their home pasture.  Victory!  I go back for the rest, same process, and same result!  YES!  Everyone is back in!!  Mad cattlewoman skills AGAIN!

Everyone is mooing angrily now because they didn’t get feed, so I head back to the barn and feed them.  Mostly because I need to find the escape hatch before they get to it again.  I call Cattle Daddy to let him know I have them all and his carport is cow-free.  He gets home about five minutes later and we find that the little rascals had pushed a gate open just enough to squeeze through, literally like a foot wide.  They had feasted on our hay bales in storage!  Two round bales were torn to bits!!  And at the moment, they were all gathered by the gate that I had led them through, trying to figure out how to escape again!!  We take that as a good sign that it’s time to rotate pastures!!

And that was my Wednesday morning.  #farmlife #madcattlewomanskills #crazycowlady

Thank you friends!!!  Time to go find more adventure!!

The Darker Side of Farming

Hello dear friends!  Now, I know I promised you amusement and laughter at my newbie cattle lessons.  I also want to promise to be real in telling my stories, and this one is as real as it gets.  I want to share the other side of farming that mainstream folks may never be aware of.  I’ll be honest in saying that I was hesitant to do so.  This story is personal and heartbreaking for me, but…this is farm life.

Only two short years ago – before buying our first cow – I thought that cattle were merely a product with an ear tag or brand to their farmers.  Business, not personal, right?  I thought that maybe I was overly attached to our cattle, being referred to as Crazy Cow Lady and all.  After following a few farming blogs and Facebook groups, I have come to realize that this darker side of farming is shared by many more that I would ever have imagined.  Here is our story…

It was my first hurricane season in Georgia.  Sure, I had endured a small one while living on the coast of North Carolina, but Georgia is right in the path of the big ones that cut through Florida and Texas…and we have a herd of vulnerable cattle.  This added a whole new level of worry.  Two hurricanes were on the radar for Georgia and supplies were flying off the store shelves.  We made a last-minute trip to Tractor Supply and a salesman was in the parking lot with the one remaining generator.  We had contemplated a generator but decided against it.  And here one was, right in our path, so we grabbed it.

It was 10am on Saturday morning and Hurricane Irma was coming.  I was sitting at the kitchen table watching it roll in with a cup of coffee and anxiety.  Sunny one moment and as dark as night the next.

Photo of Hurricane Irma moving in on the farm
Hurricane Irma rolling in

I will never forget the feeling of complete helplessness at not knowing what the day would bring.  We couldn’t do anything to protect our cattle, only hope that the trees would shield them.  We thought about the barn for the little ones, but we weren’t sure if the barn would be standing at the end of the day.  It was like rolling the dice on which was more dangerous.

The hurricane blew in and we lost power right away.  Damn, I should’ve showered when I could.  We literally sat at the kitchen table and just watched for most of the day.  We watched as pieces of our neighbor’s barn roof blew away and ours shook in the wind.  We watched our cattle huddle in the lowest part of the pasture in a tight circle.  We watched the wind change direction as the eye passed by.  Finally, in early evening, it was over.  The little huddle of cattle dispersed and we did our head count.  One missing.  We threw on our boots and jackets and headed out to make sure everyone was okay.  There, in the lowest corner, laying in a puddle, was our youngest calf, Rex.  We ran down to him and I was sure he was dead.  Cattle Daddy cradled his head and said his ears moved.  I ran to get our ATV and we hefted him into the back and I held onto him as we sped into the barn.  We laid him in a stall and I flew into the house to gather all the blankets I could find.  We wrapped him up and I laid next to him trying to warm him with my body heat.  All three of us were soaked and covered with mud.  Cattle Daddy grabbed the generator (thank God for that) and some space heaters and we got them all going.  He was slowly warming up but his legs were still as cold as ice.  Cattle Daddy setup lawn chairs and I stayed on the ground with the calf, hugging and rubbing some life back into him.

Hours later, he was blinking and twitching his ears.  We swapped out his blankets, toweled him off, rolled him over…never more than a foot away.  We were starving by this time.  I had made beef stew in the crock pot via the generator that was now in the barn.  Luckily, it was still warm and ready…and we ate dinner in to-go containers in a barn stall with our sick calf.  By this time, it was the middle of the night and we were exhausted but afraid to leave him.  We set up a cot in the stall and one of us stood watch while the other napped, still cold and covered in mud.  Rex was coming around.  His body was warm and his legs were no longer ice cubes.  We decided that we had done all we could for him.  We covered him with several layers of blankets and then unplugged the blanket, heaters, and generators.  I hugged him good night and told him he’d better not die on us.

The next morning, we found Rex wide awake and unhappy!  Irritated mooing welcomed us and it was the best sound ever!  Over the next couple of days, we were in and out of the barn every hour checking on him, feeding him, making sure he was drinking.  Finally, he was eating and drinking like normal and we let him back into the pasture with the herd.  A couple of days went by and then we noticed he was looking lethargic and not moving around as much.  We put him back into the stall and he would escape by sliding under the gates.  We called our Cattle Mentor and he suggested a shot of antibiotics, as the hypothermia may have brought on pneumonia.  We went out to the barn…and it was too late.  Rex had died.  I hugged him and bawled like a baby.  We felt like we had failed him.  I was heartbroken.  I seriously reconsidered this whole farming thing at that moment.  Welcome to real farm life.

I follow several other farm pages and found that most feel a significant loss when an animal dies.  Whether it be cattle, goats, pigs or chickens.  Losing these animals is much more difficult that one could imagine.  Not only are these losses emotional, they are also financial.  These living, breathing creatures provide laughs and life lessons as well as food and income.

To those that chose to live a life vulnerable to mother nature, crops and animals…you are some incredible individuals and I am grateful to all of you.  With all my heart, thank you.

Keepin’ it real,

Crazy Cow Lady

 

Cow Lesson: Calf Injections and Techniques to Ponder

Hello dear friends!  Today’s blog is about my first experience with subcutaneous injections.  First, I want to briefly explain how I feel about any type of activity involving a syringe.  I avoid it at all costs and must implement deep breathing and self-counseling to avoid full blown panic attacks.  This phobia is so strong that during the paramedic perquisite classes, they informed us that we had to administer IVs to each other.  I promptly dropped out of the program.  Bye Felicia. Read More

Bottle Calves and Scours! Oh my!!

My life goal of having a herd of huggable heifers was not going as planned.  Bessie and Nellie were no longer acting like Dementors, but they sure didn’t like us very much.  I was willing to give them time, seeing that we chased them through the woods and all, but we weren’t making ANY progress.  They wouldn’t come anywhere near us and weeks had passed.  I was very sad.  These cows were defective.  I wanted to send them back but Cattle Daddy said they had “nice breed standards” or something that made my eyes roll.  He said it was normal cattle behavior to not like humans or hugs.  This didn’t sound reasonable.  I needed huggable heifers.

Read More

The Fate of the Missing Calves!

Cow Lesson – Newly weaned calves are Dementors from Harry Potter

Newly weaned calves that are stolen from their mommas, herded into a cattle trailer, and dumped off in a new place are crazier than college girls on spring break.  Cows Gone Wild!

After witnessing the amazing athletic ability of these little devils, Farmer Friend and I headed back to the house to, well, I wasn’t even sure at that time…gather a search party?  Print missing posters?  Family from Ohio was gathered on the back porch and asked where the cows were, as they missed the grand arrival.  Hmm.  About that.  I called Cattle Daddy at work to break the news.  I hardly ever call him at work, so he knew something was amiss, and he was just as confused as me.  “What happened?  They did what!?  Where are they?!”  He leaves work early for the first of many “cow emergencies”.   Read More

Introductions and my first cow lesson!

Fence

Well hello there!!  Welcome to my crazy world!  I must say, I’m usually not one for public pages and posting and such, so I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here.  Then why are you on a public page you ask?  Peer pressure, mostly.  I like to make people laugh, and when people hear about my adventures, boy do they laugh.

Not too long ago, we bought a farm in the middle of rural Georgia.  No biggie, right?  Well, you see, I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio.  Yep.  I’m a transplanted Yankee – but before you southerners boo and hiss, I did marry a redneck from nowhere, North Carolina so you hush.  And then there is my mashed up, half-Yankee, half-southern words and phrases that you’ll have to endure…yep, I’m asking a lot here.  It might just be worth it though. Read More

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