Monday, January 24, 2011

Cows of Note: Astoundingly Athletic

Here is another "cow of note" for you. Number 4 over 18 (We will have to cover ear tags, soon), may look like just another black cow amongst the bunch.

That's her in the middle.Watching me.
But, Number 18, as we refer to her, is definitely a cow of note. She is a nervous sort. The cow you will see with her head stuck up, always watching you. The one you've taken your rope down for as you watch her nervously move through the bunch, but one you don't have to rope, at least not now that she's a little older.
This doesn't mean we haven't had our issues. When she was a three-year old, I had to move her and the other cows her age from one end of the ranch to the other. Every chance she got she would take off at a dead run, attempting to get away. Now, on our operation you don't let a cow get away. This results in them knowing they can get away, and practicing the art every chance they get, and we don't put up with that.
Also, if I could rope well, I definitely would have stretched her out on this particular day.
But, I was alone, and had 40 other cows to move along with her, and potentially losing everyone else while attempting to rope one didn't sound like the best idea. So, every time she would do this little stunt, I would get a little more mad as I loped out and gathered her back up.
I finally decided that I would just air her out, and every time she so much as stuck her nose out of the bunch I would take her on a big, fast circle down across draws or up over rocky hills. She never faltered, or slowed down. I've never had a cow keep trying, at that speed, for that long.
By the time we reached the pasture, my horse, myself, and all the other pairs were aired out. The only thing not sucking major air was Number 18. She was feeling it, but not compared to everyone else involved in the situation.

Dang, she's athletic I thought. Fast too...
The next time we moved cows, my brother pulled up on his motorcycle toward the end of the move and commented, "Man, have you ever seen Number 18, she's fast. I had to air her out a couple times."
However, these lessons (and quite possibly another one, involving a rope, that I didn't hear about) did prevent this "run off" issue in the future. She isn't dumb, but she maintained her nervous disposition, and is almost always in the lead when we're moving cows. She just goes the right way pretty much without issue these days.
She also gets a little tense when you're in the alley with her, and you don't want to put some idiot in there who will poke her a lot. Like I said at the beginning, she's the cow with her head up, watching you, making you think she's going to break for it, and keeping you on your toes.

She's never had a bad experience beyond my one spring morning of cardio, that I'm aware of. Just like people, cattle have different dispositions, and her's isn't a mellow one.
Another thing about our operation is that if cows are a little nervous, (and by this I don't mean the fence crawling, run your over variety, I just mean they aren't milk cow tame) we are willing to put up with them if they're good mothers, which is often the case.
We calve on the range, and our cows are expected to have a healthy calf without any help. Number 18 does this, and on that spring morning when I was making an example of her, she never lost her great big heifer calf for split second.
She's another one almost everyone can pick out almost immediately.

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