Our four-year-old grandson does his part to herd the cattle down the road by waving his cap in order to encourage them along. His dad takes a bit more active approach as he runs along behind the critters!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

'Til the Cows Come Home

We rent a pasture that's about three miles from our house.  Pasture season runs from April 15 until October 15, and so today we were a day late as we gathered 90 head of cattle from the half section pasture (that's 320 acres) and headed them down the gravel road toward home.  

Farmer John, son-in-law Brian, and I rode together to the pasture, making numerous stops along the way to close gates so our critters wouldn't be tempted to take the scenic route through the neighbors' pastures.  Son Jonathan and his wife, Nicole, went ahead of us to the pasture and were driving the cattle toward the gate in Jon's old blue pickup when we arrived.  Wonder if Nic had her seatbelt fastened?  If not I'm afraid she spent some time airborne. 

Nephews John Lee and Jacob parked their truck at the corner in order to turn the cattle, then once that mission was accomplished they sped around the section to get in front of us.  Their next job was to keep the cattle from going into a hay meadow that's just before the gate to the pasture we wanted them to enter.  

Grandpa Johnnie, (the original Farmer John) brought up the rear of the procession, herding an old girl who had rheumatism and thus couldn't jog along as fast as her comrades (see photo above). 

The main challenge to this journey was that the cattle had to be coaxed to cross an overpass that goes over an interstate highway.  Farmer John said, "At least the wind is out of the north so they won't be bothered by the highway noise until they are nearly to the overpass."  This wouldn't have occurred to me.  And then he added something else that I'd never have thought, "I hope no truckers honk.  One year one of them honked and got the cattle so upset it was terrible.  I thought they were going to leap over the guard rails and fall onto the highway." 

I was incredulous and said, "But, honking an air horn could cause the cattle to go wild and hurt one another or even one of us."

Farmer John looked grim.  "Exactly," he said. 

Brian hopped out at the overpass and stood ready to keep the cattle on the road in case they decided to run down toward the highway.  I drove the pickup and Farmer John rode in back, coaxing the cattle along.  Lured by his voice and the promise of corn chop as he rattled a feed sack, they followed  willingly.  Many of them had made this trip before.  

When about 30 head of cattle were in the middle of the overpass, sure enough, the driver of an eighteen wheeler pulled his air horn.  But whether the horn wasn't as loud as most or because the wind was blowing so hard, the cattle didn't react.  We made it home without further difficulty.  

I know most truckers are honorable and hard working folks who wouldn't willingly cause trouble for honorable and hard working farmers.  But there are evidently a few who don't mind indulging an impulsive action that could potentially cost us thousands of dollars if any of our cattle are  injured as a result of their prank. What's even worse is that 90 head of upset cattle have great potential to cause harm to their human handlers.  At one point today both my husband and my son-in-law were herding the cattle on foot. 

All's well that ends well, and it took just a little over an hour to bring the cattle home today.  Best of all, no one that I'm gonna love 'til the cows come home got hurt.  
If the phrase "love ya' till the cows come home" isn't familiar to you, have a listen here--and if you don't want to take time to listen I'll just explain; this song includes the lyric, "I'm gonna' love her 'til the cows come home'":   "When I Get Home"  (From The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night Album, 1964). 

1 comment:

  1. so glad when my cows are OUT they are still in my yard and gladly put themselves away when approached by barking resident border collie.