Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cattle Escapades

Well, I must say that cows are entertainment.  Just ask my facebook friends who have already heard most of these stories.  We purchased two cow-calf pairs this fall.  Although my husband and I both grew up with cattle, we have never intentionally owned a cow in our adult lives.  We have owned heifers (female cattle that have not had a baby calf) and steers ("fixed" males)  that we fed until butchering weight then sold and ate the meet a few weeks later.
2008 Steer Crop
We did own one cow for a week or so.  That was an oops.  We were feeding a heifer until she reached butchering weight.  One morning as my husband left for work, he noticed that she was starting to calve.  He drove back to the house to tell me to watch her that day.  Later that evening she had a grey heifer calf.  We sold the calf to a couple from Idaho who needed a calf to "graft" onto a cow that had lost her own calf.  The cow was butchered for meat about a week later.  We though about keeping the cow and calf.  But, we were in the middle of a major remodel of our house where we had to completely replace our roof; trusses and all!  We were doing all the work ourselves and could barely keep up with the required work.  A cow and calf were out of the question!
Our Boys with the Grey Calf in 2009

You see, cows are a year-round commitment.  They need vaccinations.  They eat a lot of feed.  They have to be bred to a bull or artificially inseminated.  They have babies yearly and introduce the owner to newborn calf and possible calving difficulties.  They are harder on our fences.  It seems as though they can smell when the electric fence is off.  When we raise cattle for butchering (the technical name is "back-grounding") we only own them for around 6 months.  When we have cows, it becomes more complicated.

So, we jumped into the world of complicated this September.  And, it has not been with escapades.  To begin with, we noticed that our seemingly docile two cows were really one docile cow and one angry, snotty cow.  Darla is docile.  Oreo is an angry snot.  We first noticed this when we helped the previous owner and vet give Brucellosis vaccinations to the calves.  Oreo rolled her eyes back until the whites showed, lowered her head, and almost sent the vet technician airborne    My husband and I determined to keep a respectable distance from her and wished we we had noticed her "condition" before purchasing her.

Our cows and calves in 2012.  
As we loaded the cows and their calves up to bring them home, Oreo kicked my husband in the shin as she passed by.  He still has a bump on his leg from her kick two months later.  At home, I won't let the kids into the cattle pen without an adult.  I won't be in there without something to smack Oreo with if needed.

Manure present from Oreo.

It didn't take long.  After being home about four weeks, Oreo decided I was in the way of her food.  She backed me into a corner and rolled her eyes back and began kicking at me.  I fended her off with a small grain bucket becoming splattered with fresh wet manure in the process.  Thank God I had a bucket and no kids with me!

All was calm for a couple weeks until Oreo decided to try to eat the grain set aside for the calves.  We though she wasn't capable of reaching it.  But, somehow she got her massive head through a 7 inch opening. Her head went in, but was not coming out.  Oreo was stuck between a 2X6 board and the barn wall.  I tried getting her to turn her head and drop it down low - the way she got in to start with.  But, she was not having that.  Instead she threw her head around showering everything around her with snot and saliva.  Since she was wedged against the barn wall, I figured she could not flip herself over and suffocate, so she stayed stuck until my husband got home from work.
The infamous Oreo aka angry snotty cow.

Forty-five minutes, a crowbar, a piece of wood, and some nails later we had Oreo free.  My husband removed a section of the barn wall structure to allow enough room for Oreo to get her head free.  She still had to twist her head to be free.  It took prying her head up with another 2X6 temporarily nailed in place to give my husband the help he needed to twist her hear and lift it the final foot to freedom.  Needless to say, that area of the barn is no longer a favorite for Oreo, even though it is the location where I feed grain.

Darla is such a sweet cow with a nice large and tame heifer calf.  Our plan now is to eat Oreo for meat and use Darla and her calf as the base of any herd of cattle at our place.  Between our kids and location close to the city of Spokane, we can't risk ornery animals like Oreo at our place.  So enjoy the exciting cattle stories for now.  I am expecting my story bank will dry out once Oreo leaves.  You are welcome to have a good bbq'd beek steak with us at our place though!

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