It started out innocently enough.
The kids and I swung by the pasture to check the tank on our way to town. We only had a few minutes because, as usual, we were running later than I had hoped and we didn’t want to be late for an eye doctor appointment! As we got the salt put out I looked at the cows grazing in the not to far distance and thought I saw too many hanger downers 😉
There were two of the bulls. But a couple other cattle standing next to them also had the tuft of fur under the belly. That didn’t seem right.
I checked my watched, contemplated the length of the drive we still had and decided there was enough time to walk over to the bunch. Once I got over there there were way to many cattle with hanger downers. Yearling steers. Yay. That meant the neighbor had cattle out. I would need to get a hold of someone. But first we had to get to our appointment. We were going to be late.
In town I texted around and got numbers for the suspected owners. Called one, the father, and left a message. Then got the number of the son and texted.
The son answered immediately. The response made me so made I had to sit and think a bit before responding. Always best not to text mad 😉
He said “Probably ours, went around fence, but your half was not great. We fixed it up some, but needs a lot of posts. We are out of town until tomorrow but will get it then. ”
Now I’ve dealt with these people before. I’ve been out there fixing fence on miserably hot days because they told my husbands father the same thing and he said oh ok, or some such. Then ordered us out to fix fence for the neighbors. Knowing what they are like I was extra careful when I went over that fence line. I wasn’t having it. I informed him the fence had been fine thank you. Very politely of course. He didn’t respond.
The father called me back as we went through walmart. He was very polite, until he started in on it too. Figured out who I was and which of their pastures I was talking about, which took awhile. Then said they’d get to it once they got back from vacation. But, you know, that fence isn’t very good between us. I wasn’t having it. I was already pretty grouchy after talking to the son. My children had chosen that moment to start a brawl in the aisle. I grabbed handfuls of what ever I could get, hair, and yanked them apart. Giving them my best knock it off or I will beat you look I sent them cowering apart. Then smiled, because it can be heard in your voice and told him, nope, the fence was good, I walked it and have been checking it. We chatted a bit more and he started in again!
You know, your fence between us….
Nope! If he wanted to repeat himself I could repeat myself. I thought a moment about the absurdity of it then decided I could do it as many times as he could. And we did. There in the middle of walmart with a smile fixed on my face, sobbing pouting children and people trying to get to the chips behind me. I held my ground and refused any reply except to restate that the fence was in great shape. Yealings can be hard to keep in, no one is mad at them but it was not the fences fault.
Seriously! Accept blame. Be polite, apologize for your cattle, and promise to come get them. I’ve been on that end of things before. It happens. Refusing to accept any responsibility is the behavior of a child. Grown men should know better.
The kids and I went over and took lunch to their father in the field where he was working summer fallow. Then we started driving the fence line.
There were way more than the few head I had seen earlier. It was really beginning to look like there were way more yearlings than pairs! A handful of them were in the summer fallow. They had torn the fence down between it and the pasture. We put it up and, after careful consideration, I texted the son again. Let him know that we had a bunch more than originally thought and some didn’t have water.
He texted back that they’d be there this evening. Then started insisting that I didn’t need to be there to help with the sorting!
The more he insisted that I not come the more determined I was that I was going to be there. The way they had acted so far didn’t lead me to believe they would treat the cattle decently or sort thoroughly. I wanted to make sure my cows didn’t disappear or get run hard.
The kids and I loaded up the 4wheelers. There’s plenty of barb wire laying around I wouldn’t want to risk any horse’s legs.
We got there. Drove over and picked up my husband from the summer fallow. By the time we got back they were there. All two of them. They had been determined that two guys were going to sort fifty plus yearling out of the pairs by themselves? I had even been assured, in one of the many texts telling me not to come, that it would only take them a few minutes. They had high opinions of themselves. Or hadn’t believed me about the number of steers.
They took over issuing orders. Their yearlings, so fine. We sorted and pushed and sorted some more. It was actually going rather well. We were able to leave cows and calves behind as the herd walked towards the gate.
Then everything balled up and the easy sorting was done. Working hard we got a few more out. My son put in a good days work, real work not kid stuff, pushing cows we got out back to that herd and holding them there. Someday his kids will be as fascinated and horrified by his tales of life growing up on the farm as we are when my grandpa talked about driving the team farming by himself when he was five. If he was as dedicated and hard working as this boy I can see how he would have easily done the job. My husband worked the cattle on foot. My daughter and I ran around doing a bit of everything. Hopefully helpfully 😉 Daisy dog clung to the back of the fourwheeler.
With a few head left in the bunch it was decided that it would be easier to pull a couple of cows back out of their pasture than to sort where we were and the whole bunch was sent through the gate.
There they all took off at a hard run. The three of us took off after them. my husband had rejoined our son and were busy keeping cows in the pasture I think. I don’t know. We never looked back. Despite my determination not to let them run our cows hard there wasn’t much else to do at the moment but to keep up. We caught them before the draw and each took a cow. Either the guys did a better job chasing them, or they had easier cows. They got theirs back while we fought with ours
I think a 4wheeler should work cows like a horse. Stop and turn on a dime after them. Daisy was having a hard time holding on. My daughter was giggling hysterically with an arm around me and the other holding tight to Daisy. Back and fourth we cut that cow until she quite fighting and, somewhat, quietly went back to her pasture.
With that part done I begged my daughter to please take Daisy back to the pickup. This was hard on her and there was nothing she’d be able to help with. They got dropped off as close as possible to the pickup and they walked back with plenty of water holes and trees to play in along the way. Then we, my trusty green mount and I were back in the fray.
We had sorted part of the herd, but there were plenty more to work through. It took a couple of hours and lots of wear and tear on the 4wheelers but we did finally get all of the yearling steers out. The grass, which had looked good went from having another week or so of grazing to needing the cows moved soon. The cows were run hard. I can only imagine how hard they would have been run without us there. I pulled the father aside one time and told him to take it easy. I didn’t want the cows pushed that hard or to lose any calves. Not sure he actually herd me. Or listened. I had worked hard to avoid screaming when one of them took off after my old 524 cow. She’s the second oldest in my herd and a dang good cow. If they hadn’t backed off before I could react, well, I do seem to be a bit grouchy lately, I think I’d be willing to take a grown man 😉
There were yearlings coming back to the fence already as we finished and paused to talk a bit. Fortunately they didn’t say any more about how their cows being in our pasture was my fault. Of course they didn’t acknowledge me at all, only deigning to speak to my husband. Probably for the best. He has better control over his temper than I do.
They went down the fence line to chase their yearlings the other way. Their only concession to the trouble their calves had caused when the father said they’d be taking three or so of them back with them to a different pasture because they were high headed trouble causers. On his way to get the steer who was waiting right back where they had taken the whole fence down, he stopped and very self righteously put a staple in our fence. He had claimed it to be weak, falling down, and generally bad, guess he had to find something wrong with it. I hope that one staple made him feel better.