20 September 2020 – Sunny and 75

It warmed right back up after the snow storm and we were actually really grateful for the snow because we need moisture.  The ground soaked it right up and we returned to the upper 80s for several days. The roads are once again dry and dusty. Crazy South Dakota weather.

Dave and I finished putting the roof rafters and purlins on the cow shelter, but we are waiting on the metal siding and roofing.  Apparently there is a big demand for building materials right now, especially in this area, so we can expect those materials in a couple weeks. It is quite possible we can expect more snow in a couple weeks as well.

The almost-complete shed. It doesn’t offer much shelter yet.
From the top of the stock dam

Meanwhile, we had our second (and hopefully final) load of hay delivered and we were able to put most of it into the barn.

Don’t drive too close behind the hay wagon, you may get a free bale on your hood!

We are probably going to have to start feeding very soon as the pastures just did not produce anything this year and the cows are hungry.  So hungry that they decided one night to knock down a wire gate and head to town.

Dave and I got up early as usual and decided the weather was so nice we would walk up to the northern pasture to check on everyone.  We counted only half of the cows and proceeded to do a perimeter check in which we discovered the knocked down gate.  Seven cows were out, but nowhere to be seen. We quickly walked back to the house and loaded up some cattle panels to block the gate area.  Then Dave headed west in the Mule and I headed east in the truck in search of the escapees.  Neither of us had any luck and we met back at the pasture to reattack.

We decided to move the remaining cows into the southern pasture so we could leave the gate area open in case the loose cows decided to come back. Optimism.  While he moved the herd south I proceeded on foot through the National Forest with a bucket of cow-cake.  I walked pretty far and called for them and shook the cake bucket but did not see nary a cow. I bet if anyone had been out there and saw me doing this they would have thought I had also escaped, but from the looney-bin.

I decided to head even further east in the truck and about two miles away I saw the culprits grazing along the road.  As soon as they heard me rattle the cake bucket they came running.  Dave showed up in the Mule and I parked my truck and we led the girls up the long hill back to the Holler.  

Once we arrived at the spot where they had broken out, most of the cows walked right back in but there is always one that is a troublemaker.  This time it was the calf, Bo.  While everyone else went through the gate and headed west along the fence, she also headed west along the fence but on the outside of the pasture.  She is already too big to squeeze through the barbed wire and so we tried to push her back toward the gate, but the other cows kept going west so of course she did not want to turn around.  

Calves are much harder for us to move because our cows are so “bucket-broke” they will follow us anywhere as long as there is a cake involved.  Calves aren’t eating cake yet and only want to go where their moms go, but often they are too stupid to follow them through a gate.  Bo was getting scared and running back and forth.  Dave and I were getting frustrated as every attempt to get her back to the gate was unsuccessful.  After what seemed like a long time and a lot of wasted effort we resorted to calling in the Sheriff. Sheriff Joe that is.

Put me in, Coach!

Normally we don’t let Joey chase after cows or calves.  He is pretty tall and I worry that he is not quick enough and will get kicked in the teeth.  We like to keep things as calm and un-chaotic as possible when moving cattle, and a big biting dog can add a little chaos. Also, Joe has a very strong chase instinct so he will definitely chase cows as far as they can run and usually not in the direction we want.  Our frustration with herding this calf made all of these reasons seem unimportant and we thought we’d give him a shot.

I said, “Joey, come!”  He jumped out of the Mule came right to me and I said, “Here’s your chance.  Git Her!”  He promptly turned around and ran right after a butterfly.   Hmmmmm.  I thought we might try again and so I called him back and he came and sat in front of me.  Dave suggested instead of “Git Her” I make the “shushing” noise I usually do when we are pushing cows.  So I said, “Joe, Shush, shushh!”  Joey turned around and saw Bo and instantly turned on his missile lock.  He ran as fast as he could up behind her and she immediately sensed this was not good.  Bo took off and Joey herded her right through the gate into the pasture with the rest of the cows. It was awesome!

I yelled, “That’s enough, COME!”  And he came right back as proud as he could be.  Dave and I could not believe it but we praised him and were so relieved to finally have all the cows back inside.  I did not think the Sheriff would be any good at the cow herding thing but he really proved me wrong.  Good job, Joe!

Resting after a tough day of wrangling calves.

The next day we were checking cows and I thought I would see if he was up for some more herding.  I called him and I said, “Joe, Shush Shussh!”  He turned around and immediately caught sight of his own tail.  He started chasing it in a circle as fast as he could turn until he caught it and tackled himself to the ground. Hmmmm.  Maybe we need a little more work.

That’s about the extent of the excitement out here on the Holler.  We are praying for our friends that suffered through Hurricane Sally in Florida and hope you all dry out soon. Until next time, keep it free out there in the real world!

Don’t be mad. We’re just dumb cows!