9 December 2018 – Sunny and Highs in the upper 30’s
I know we aren’t the only ones with snow right now. Here is a friendly reminder to go slow, keep your feet underneath you, and keep your tires on the road! The warmer temperatures and the melting snow have made our whole world one big icy challenge.
The first step out the door in the morning is onto a slippery, icy, deck. I generally am looking down at my feet to make sure I don’t trip. Yesterday, I was looking down and Sheriff Joe was right next to me. I saw him lower his head into his hunting position, and his tail came up to a nearly vertical point. I looked up and about 15 feet in front of me was a beautiful buck with a huge rack of antlers. He stared right at me for a split second and then the Sheriff ran him off. I love mornings.
Next, I shuffled through the ice, Tim Conway style, up to the barn and made sure Maverick, the cat, got fed and watered. Dave loaded hay in the Mule and warmed it up so we could go feed the cows. The Mule has been in four wheel drive a lot because every time we try to go up a hill we end up spinning out. We bought it used and think it still has the original tires, so we have ordered some replacements to ease our commute!
When we feed, even the cows are being careful in the slippery field. Normally they will run towards the feed wagon (the Mule), but they know to be more cautious in the winter and tread very lightly. It’s kind of cool to watch a 1600lb cow walking as gently and slowly as possible. It is similar to watching a very large ballet dancer. Maybe I’ll buy them some tutus.
Our chores have become slightly more complicated because we have two new editions to our herd. They are actually older ladies, but one of our neighbors gave us a bred cow as a barter for some fence work we did for her, and Cowboy and Linda purchased the other cow from her. Meet Brandy and Domino!
Unfortunately, even though they are all adults, the cows act like rotten grade school children when a new kid shows up at school. They all gang up on the new cows and there is a lot of brawling, head butting, and kicking up dirt and snow. It’s pretty awful to watch, but all we can do is yell at them to stop, or whack them with a stick so they will separate. Poor Brandy and Domino have been spending most of the day looking wistfully at their old pasture across the way, but they did figure out the Mule means food and have started coming down to the plowed area of the pasture when we feed. They have been holding their own and getting in on the food and cake in between the bar room brawls. I hope they can all adjust soon.
One of the casualties of all the fighting was poor Honey, our cow that had recently been to the vet for an ear problem. Her ear was healing nicely, but lately it began to look like she had been rubbing it or itching it with her hind leg. It was bleeding and scabby again. The first morning we introduced the new cows to the herd, Rancher Dave, Cowboy, Linda, and I watched the cows feed in the morning and tried to prevent too much fighting. As we were watching, we saw Puzzle, one of our old cows, take a really cheap shot and headbutt Honey right in the bad ear.
Honey’s ear shot blood all over her face and Puzzle’s. It was like that horrible scene in Rocky where his eye bursts open. Honey looked like it hurt her pretty badly, and she kept dropping her head and shaking her ears. We decided we would have to take her back to the vet. Fortunately, our vets here are really exceptional and even though it was a Saturday and short notice, they decided to squeeze us in….or literally, squeeze Honey in the chute!
They shaved, cleaned, and disinfected her ear, pulled the tag out, and gave her an antibiotic. We were really glad we took her in because she had a slight fever indicating the ear might be infected. Poor Honey!
Now back to the Ice-Capades. Our dirt road is private, and the maintenance is up to the people living here, so Rancher Dave does the plowing and Cowboy Dave does the snow blowing when needed. We don’t have that much snow on the ground and our road didn’t even require plowing this time. Still, it is slick in some spots and from the Holler to the county road is uphill the whole way.
The county road is also dirt and is maintained by the county. They usually get out and plow it right away, which they did this year, but so far they have not put down any salt or sand. It reminds me of that amusement park ride, the Alpine Slide. From the top of our road to pavement it is all downhill and it feels like you’re driving on the roughest washboard covered in ice. Wheeeee!
Okay, not wheeee! More like Whoa! Cowboy and Rancher Dave hooked up the cattle trailer to the truck and had no problems getting up our hill, but once they hit the Alpine Slide they had to slow way down, keep in in four-wheel drive, and hang on tight all the way to the neighbors. They made it safely, loaded up the two bred cows, and proceeded back up the mountain to our road. Driving on ice is challenging enough, but it adds another level of excitement when you’re pulling a large trailer. Why not up the ante and load that trailer with two 1500 lb pregnant cows? We create our own fun out here in the country.
Fortunately, they made it back safely. Unfortunately, Rancher Dave and I got to make the same trip to the main road with Honey loaded up for the vet the next day. Again, it was an easy trip to the county road and a white knuckled, slow as we could go, slip and slide down the Alpine Slide. Coming up from the main road is worse because it is so icy, you cannot really slow down too much or you wheels will just spin and you won’t make it up the hill. I was really glad Rancher Dave was driving but we all made it safely. We unloaded Honey into a corral at the High Lonesome with two of the nicer, younger cows for company. We decided we are going to keep her out of the boxing ring while her ear heals. Next we hosed out the trailer and got everything put away just in time for afternoon feeding.
That evening, Rancher Dave and I were sitting on the sofa drinking some fancy boxed wine and he said to me, “Everything today was difficult. The fighting cows, the injured cow, the trip to the vet, and even the chores were hard to get done because of all the ice!” I agreed, it was a stressful and tiring day. Then he said, “But you know what, there is nothing I would rather be doing.” I agreed with this too, and about 15 minutes later he was sound asleep on the couch.
And by the way, Honey’s ear is doing just great. The very next morning you couldn’t even tell she had a wound, it just looked like someone shaved her ear. Cow’s and their stupid party tricks; wait until someone passes out and shave their ear. Classic. Everyone be safe out there in the ice and snow!