First there was a bad back keeping the job from being done. Then there was the forecast for bad weather. No need to add more stress by doing it with a storm coming on. Then it was the storm, even worse than predicted. Two weeks worth of blizzard and frigid temps. No way to get anything done but survive in that weather. Then pens and lanes full of drifts left us wondering how to even get the job done?
It needed done and that was that. Where there’s a will there’s a way. We had to get the calves weaned.
With the usual places full of snow we had to find new places. A different lane, a different approach. It worked. Mostly because it was not as full of snow. The cows wanted out desperately. Large numbers of them sorted themselves just by running out the gate once it was open. I felt bad disappointing them. They didn’t get to go on through to the pasture on the other side. In time we will get them back out of cornstalks. Cows like the corrals, when they also get to chose to leave.
We brought a few at a time up with the 4wheelers. When I sat a moment on mine and no wind blew, I was able to catch the scent of something. What was that? I sniffed my gloves just to be sure I hadn’t touched something untoward. Not my gloves. It was only occasional that we were still and together. Most of the time I was on foot quietly moving cows about. It’s such a fun conversation to have. Hello old girl, yes you. You can go by me now. Some go confidently, past and out the gate. Others need to be reassured they are the ones you really mean. Yes pretty girl, you can go, no, not the one behind you. Go ahead now.
Then I’d be back on my trust green mount to move the cows to the new pen or get a new batch, and there was that smell again.
Finally I was able to place it. Warm cat pee. How, pleasant. Did someone mistake the engine for a litter box? Nothing for it but to ignore the fragrant aroma and get the job done.
Soon all were sorted. Calves on one side of the fence, cows on the other. It has been well shown in studies that calves are most stressed by separation from their mothers. More than from the medical necessities performed on them. Weaning over a fence allows them to be together, just without the milk. Calves dove right into the feed we filled their bunk with. The cows were looking for their breakfast.
My daughter got a special gift for Christmas this year. Her heifer from last year lost her calf. She loves the heifer and didn’t want to let her go. Not even with the option of choosing from among all the other heifers, after they calved to guarantee a calf. That set her back quite a bit in building her herd. My daughter loved our little yellow bottle calf from this summer. I had told her no, she couldn’t just have a calf. They are expensive and she needs to learn what it takes to build a herd on her own. But, having lost her first calf this summer, I felt bad. Marsh Mellow could be hers.
But, that means she has to help with her. We weaned the last of the bottle calves off of Popcorn too. The kids came out and helped push them through the round about rout we had to take to get them to the others. They did a great job. That left two calves behind that hadn’t been nursing. Pitiful and runty, I wanted to leave them up front so they didn’t have to fight bigger calves for feed.
We got the bottle calves calves out with the others. The children ran ahead to play in snow drifts. I walked home while the guys cleared more snow.
I saw it from a distance. The dog wasn’t up that far yet, it couldn’t be her. Besides, even from the distance it had a very calf like appearance. So what was it doing on top of a snow drift!
One of the calves left behind had been left by himself for a brief time while we got others sorted. Apparently he didn’t approve! He had climbed the snowbank. Pausing only long enough for the required pictures I rushed to get him down where he belonged before he got hurt or stuck.
In the house later my son asked if I had seen the calf on the snow drift! I told him I had, and had put him back where he belonged. Nodding sagely, my son said “so did I”.
Oh dear. Hope we will be able to keep the calf off the bank now that he has found this great new play ground.