Clearly I was tired yesterday. So tired I forgot to give my pathetically short post a title. Whoops!
Everyone remember where all the cows were as of Tuesday afternoon? That was the easy part. The real work started Wednesday.
The vet was scheduled to come at 1:30 so we took and early lunch and regrouped at noon to start working the various groups. First we ran the yearlings into one of the large holding pens (there are two total). Next we ran group 1 into the lane that leads into the 2nd holding pen. From there we sorted the calves from the cows. The cows went into the barn and the calves went in with the yearlings. Next we brought group 2 into the lane and let them hang out for a bit.
By that time the vet had arrived and was ready to get started. Ryan needed to be with the vet to keep all of the records straight so Steve and I were in charge of all things cattle. We started with the adults from group 1. Everyone was vaccinated, ear-notched, and gave a blood sample. The vet also checked all of the females to see who is pregnant.
Once group 1 was all situated in the chute system and under control for the vet, Steve and I set about sorting group 2. Ryan makes it look so easy. However, let me assure you, there is nothing easy about sorting cows. The group was too big to be sorted in the lane as we did with group 1. We were worried they’d bunch up in a corner and start pushing until they broke a fence. That would’ve been a disaster. Instead we worked batches into the holding pen. From there Steve and I sorted calves back into the lane. One we were down to adults only, we took them down into the barn and got them set in the chute system.
After the vet finished with a cow, he sent her out into the small pasture behind the barn. When he’d seen all of the cows, Steve and I pushed them out into the pasture where group 2 had been on Tuesday. With the barn lot cleared and all of the gates closed we were ready to start on the calves.
Calves are annoying. Calves are irrational. And they are afraid of everything. By this point it was getting dark and Ryan turned the lights on in the barn. Steve and I worked the calves in groups of 15. As we brought them down to the barn, they inevitably panicked when they saw the electric lights. Then they panicked when the saw the chute system. Then they panicked when they saw the door at the end of the chute system. Each time they panicked they tried to turn around and run back they way they’d came. Steve and my job was to not let them.
We have almost 90 calves between the yearlings and this year’s calves. Ninety calves taken in groups of 15. Each group balking 3-4 times from pen to pasture. All of this done half in the dark (there are no lights for the holding pens where they calves were hanging out). Any wonder why I was exhausted? Thankfully, the calves just needed to be ear notched and vaccinated. No blood samples and no pregnancy tests. Things went quickly.
We finished up around 7:00. The cows were in the pasture and the calves in the barn lot. We didn’t put mamas and babies back together because it is time for the calves to be weaned. They all balled all night long. And all day today for that matter. There’s been quite a cacophony here on the farm. Concerned (annoyed?) neighbors have been calling to make sure everything is OK.
It was a long day, but a good day. So many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t. Steve and I managed the cows which freed Ryan to work with the vet. Would things have been more efficient with Ryan’s help? Absolutely! But we did it! No one escaped. No fences were trampled. And no one got kicked. What more could you ask for?