We got a call late last night. The neighbor would be driving his heard of cows over in the morning to load them using our corrals and haul them to pasture. No idea when.
So we went out by the light of the moon, a very bright half moon, and closed gates on the horses so everything was ready and they were out of the way. You never know sometimes, people will show up at the crack of dawn.
My hard working husband has been up at dawn all weekend, his usual one chance to sleep in a little, and out raking hay. He did the same this morning. I get to sleep in. Until about six thirty at least which is when the kids are up running around. The guys didn’t show up until late, eightish maybe? They came and unloaded 4wheelers here to ride back and get the herd. I went out to make sure my horse stuff was out of the way so they could get to the chutes with pickups and trailers. My husband came in from the field to make sure they had everything they needed. I hopped on with him and we ran to make sure gates were closed around the corn fields and to hold the driveway when they went by. There was barely time to get around that as the herd came trotting over the hills down the road. From our drive we watched them veer sharply off into the crp to the north then back again. Past us the trotted, off and running.
We rushed back to drop my husband off to get back to raking and I went around through the pasture to offer any more help they might need. The cows went right where they were supposed to and were captured in the high guard rail fences of the corrals.
One child was in the tractor helping bale. I ran inside to check on the other than out to offer any help I could.
They were busy sorting calves off. I was going pretty well. Of course that couldn’t last. The cows started balking. The tall skinny guy, I didn’t know them, they were people the neighbor had gotten to come help him, the tall skinny guy was trying to get only cows. The other guy was trying to help. The main sort didn’t go bad beyond some cussing and a few bruises.
Then there was the second sort. A handful of bull calves that hadn’t been castrated. Those were harder to carefully pull out of the other calves. More cussing and a few yelps, I was happy to be standing quietly at the gate away from the commotion. The neighbor was in there sorting now. That made it go a little smoother. His cows know him and are used to him. They don’t take strangers well. Finally the bull were pulled out. There was one brockle faced, spotted with white, heifer in with them. At first they were going to get her. Then the neighbor said to leave her. There was something about her he didn’t like, she wouldn’t make a good cow. She might as well go to the sale barn. The destination of the bulls apparently.
No sooner had he said that then she made a swoop past me. I leapt onto the gate. She ran past me and dove out the gate. The tall skinny guy was standing in the middle of the lane. Minding his own business. The heifer was running hard down the center of the lane. Heading elsewhere. Unfortunately they were both in the same place at the same time. She jumped into the air. He may have froze, he may have tried to move but didn’t have time, he may have thought she wouldn’t take him.
She crashed into him, took him down. Landed on top of him. Thrashed around awhile. They both were on the ground rolling about. She got up first, stomped on him some more then was off. He laid there awhile, getting his breath and his bearings I would guess. We could easily see why she wouldn’t make a cow. She dove for all of us a few more times before that bunch was put safely off in their own pen.
Where I had to sneak in and try to get a close up picture of her whorl! I did, with the handy zoom on my phone. She tried to eat me a few times. Fortunately didn’t succeed.
There were three stock trailers to fill and just splitting cows from calves didn’t fit what room there was to fill. There was a little more sorting to do. Pulling a few big calves off to fit in the trailer with the cows. One of them was not happy. Another heifer who took after us a few times. The other guy, not tall and skinny, hung out up on the fence with me. He had a few bruises of his own already and enough sense not to want a repeat of what tall skinny guy got.
The bull, the big one, not the calves, got pulled off too. He was staying behind after it took a lady with her good roping horse and herd of dogs to get him loaded and brought home last fall. Some may remember the days long adventure that was bringing this neighbors cows home last fall. The bull was not happy to be separated from his herd. As we loaded the others he tried to jump the tall guard rail fences, hung up at the girth and slid defeatedly back to the side he was supposed to be on.
With the cattle loaded and gone we moved the bull, bull calves, and killer heifer to a pen where they would have food and water until the neighbor came for them. Back inside the house I sat down to get some work done.
Soon my cow hating husband came in the door. Would I mind coming out? The bull had jumped out of the pen and needed to be put back.
When we got out there he wasn’t hanging out around the corrals and cows like I had rather expected. Instead he was on the far side of a corn field. Great. I said I’d go back for a horse so we didn’t smash so much corn driving over it with 4wheelers. Working on saddling a horse I got a call. He had left the corn field and was headed east. Towards home.
I rushed out on the 4wheeler to find them and him in the section line. A ‘road’ between fields, no maintenance, no gravel, just grass. As I got into the section line, no where near him, he jumped into a different neighbors field. Freshly planted. We sat and pondered life for awhile. The mistakes we had made that lead us to this unfortunate position. Selling out and moving to town, going home and getting a rifle.
In the end we followed him into the field. He obviously knew where home was and wanted to go there. We could escort him. I drove alongside him my dusty dirty husband behind. The bull hadn’t been mean through any of this. He just didn’t care if you were there and walked right through you. With our son sitting in front of me I kept picturing how easily the big bull could turn and topple us, 4hwheeler and all. We switched places with my husband. Slightly easier to get out of the way without a small child to get to safety too.
Squinting against the dust we stirred up in the bone dry field the boy was a trooper. Proud of himself for being out there doing a mans job and doing a good job at it. He was happy to claim the well deserved title of a ‘real cowboy’.
We got across the field and the bull happily hopped the fence into the next neighbors field. This one was in grass at least and not as filthy. On the other side was the road and his home where he spent the winter and wanted back to.
So he jumped the other fence into still another neighbors wheat field.
The wheat looks great this year. They got the weeds under control and it seems to have gotten enough moisture to grow tall enough to almost hide a full grown bull. Who left a path of destruction in his wake. We didn’t follow. He was going fine on his own.
Fence after fence, field after field, he wandered towards his home. We sat to the side and tried to guide him as best we could. He went home in a round about way. Finally he ended up in his corrals. They are much less sturdy than the guard rail and railroad tie pen he left. Hopefully it is where he wanted to be, even without his cow herd there, and he will stay. If not. We’re all in trouble. Maybe he’ll go find a herd of cows somewhere and stay with them.