5 June 2017 – Sunny and highs in the upper 80’s
Last week was really busy here on the Holler, and over at the High Lonesome. On Memorial Day, we began getting ready for our round-up. We have a small herd, but the cattle all need to be worked to ensure they stay healthy and happy.
We had intended to use a neighbor’s corral because the cows wouldn’t have to move that far and they already had a chute, head gate, and calf table that they said we could use. The weather had other plans and we had about 3 days of heavy rains. While the rain is really needed and great for oat and alfalfa growing, it made that neighbor’s corral impossible to work due to the deep mud and muck.
Our alternative plan was to borrow a calf table from our friend, Ned, and set up over in the High Lonesome corral, which was still muddy but workable when we put down some pallets, plywood, and pine shavings. We strive to be solutions oriented.
So after gathering all the parts and pieces, we went about setting up over at Cowboy Dave and Linda’s. While the guys used the tractors to set up the calf table and alley, Linda and I cleaned off some of the equipment. I used their hose to wash off some of the gate pieces, and I hadn’t anticipated how strong the water pressure was. Lucky me. When I set out to spray one of the most manure-laden pieces of the gate, the powerful water pressure ricocheted all the poop right back in my face and all over my shirt and jeans. It was disgusting and I was happy I at least was wearing sunglasses and didn’t have my mouth open. Covered in crap, I ran over to give Pilot Dave a hug and he ran away. Cowboy Dave said it was because he didn’t like my new cologne, “Corral #5”. Ha ha!
Then, we all went to go round up the cows and bring them back to the correct pasture. They seemed excited to be coming back home.
The day of the roundup, the vet was going to show up around noon so we spent the morning sorting cows. We separated all the new calves from their mothers and put them in a pen. The calves did not seem to care but WOW, those moms were pretty unhappy. We could barely hear each other over all the mooing.
The vet showed up with her assistant and we got to work. Linda worked the gates, Cowboy and I pushed individual calves through the alley, and Pilot Dave worked with the vet to catch them in the calf table.
I have to brag a little (and I know he’ll protest) about Pilot Dave. He is really evolving into Rancher Dave. He ran the calf table. He branded all six calves. He tied off the legs of the two bulls that needed castrating. (This is done to hold the leg out of the way while the vet goes about her business.) He held a calf’s head completely still while the vet de-horned the little guy and used the branding iron to cauterize the wound. He worked side by side with the vet and her assistant to get everyone done and he looked like he’d been doing it his whole life.
The calf working went pretty smoothly, but the cows were a little more difficult. They did not want to go through the alley so we all had to team up and push and prod and entice with cake. All the girls got fly tags, they were poured with de-wormer, and the heifers were given Preg-guard shots in preparation for summer breeding.
The actual vet visit took about two hours and we were all beat afterward.
As tired as we were, we drank a few Keystones in the shade and congratulated ourselves on a successful roundup. No one got hurt, we accomplished all we needed to, and we all felt pretty proud of ourselves for a job well done. While we are still trying to feel out our way here in the Wild West, we feel like we have come a long way for a couple of city slickers. And, our cows weren’t too mad afterward either.