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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