Sunday we had to vaccinate our fall herd and treat a few cows.
We did that last fall and I talked about it a little. I was chasing cows, got knocked around a bit and at one point I was pinned against the fence and ended up pretty sore with a lot of shades of blue on my body.
Sunday, our oldest son came down and took the beating for me. : )
We started before dawn, because we wanted to get finished before it got super hot out.
He helped finish up the garage work in PA around 11 pm and rolled into our place in Virginia around 3:30 am on Sunday morning.
He was sleeping on our couch when I came downstairs around 5ish.
He just turned 25 so he’s not a kid anymore, but I still admire that kind of work ethic. He’s done a lot of work on farms out west and he has a great pride and respect for the salt-of-the-earth people and the work it takes to grow and produce the food that feeds our nation.
I’m a little tempted to go off on a tangent there, but I’ll try not to.
Anyway, he helped me chase the cows and gave me all the easy jobs – meaning I stood on the fence while he got the bull out. : )
We separated the cows from the calves – we weren’t weaning, but the chute is long and narrow and if you try to run calves through with the cows, the calves will get crushed.
We’re not really set up for the calves very well and don’t really have any place to hold them.
Our son ended up getting in the chute with the calves and pinning them against the side of the chute while we gave them their vaccinations and wormer. Some of the calves were topping three hundred pounds and he definitely had his work cut out for him.
If you can imagine being in a small, enclosed space with a terrified, young and strong animal that is desperate to escape and find his mama and that weighs twice as much as you do, and if you can imagine trying to wrestle that animal into submission…forty-four times… that’s what our son did.
Our son was in a motorcycle accident earlier this spring, and I have a feeling that wrestling the calves wasn’t quite as bad as the accident, but he definitely earned his bumper sticker.
We started early, but it was still hot and humid. We’d gotten some much needed rain the day before and so it was muddy too. We weren’t complaining, because we were so thankful for the rain. But we were all pretty filthy.
There was one noteworthy thing with the cows.
Maybe some of you remember the story I told a while ago where a cow was supposed to be running behind me while I stood with my back to her at the fence, but she charged me and rammed me into the fence instead. I was dazed and hurting, but I still turned to follow her out, because, you know, you do your job. It took me a second or two to realize that she’d stopped, turned around and was coming back for me. (At this point I always think that if I hadn’t lived this, I would never believe anyone who told me that a cow charged her – twice – for no reason.) Anyway, I might have been dazed, but I made it to the top of the fence pretty quick.
That cow was #16.
We can get about eight cows in the chute, but they’re pretty squished. About the fourth group we had in, we had a cow who just wouldn’t move forward and was keeping us from being able to shut the gate. No matter how we pushed and prodded her, she wouldn’t budge.
Her ear tag was in the opposite ear, but I finally got a look at it and realized it was #16. Ha.
Anyway, we just made do, got that group their shots, and opened the gate to let them out.
They start moving out of the chute and into the funnel to the pasture. I was working on getting more vaccine mixed and ready for the next batch, and Julia was beyond me with her notebook, when one of the cows, rather than going straight, makes a U turn and comes charging down the narrow aisle where we do our work beside the chute and where I was standing with Julia further down.
Someone yelled. I glanced up and it only took a half a second for me to see which cow it was.
“It’s sixteen!” I yelled, and I dropped the needle and vaccine I was working with and leaped for the fence. I hit it about the third rung up and was on the top before the word “sixteen” was out of my mouth. I can be taught.
I think Jules made it to the top of the fence before I did.
We hung there until 16 got herself turned around and our son poked her from the other side of the chute and chased her out.
My knees may or may not have been shaking as I jumped down.
Watson was laughing, of course, and he pointed his finger at me. “She wants YOU,” he said, like I didn’t already know it. lol
I really don’t know why she has a thing against me, but I seriously do keep an eye on her when I’m in the pasture. She chased me around the Gator once (that was a couple weeks after she’d slammed me into the fence) and now this. I’ve offended her somehow, I guess, but I’ll be dipped if I know what I did.
I’m not sure why we’re keeping her. (Watson says she has nice calves, but I don’t care. I think she’d make nicer hamburgers.)
Alright, we finished up in good time, and just in case there were any lingering feelings of suppressed annoyance toward our cows, we told our son we’d treat him to a steak dinner. He certainly earned it.
But we all had to get showers.
I let the girls go first because it takes them longer to get ready.
Watson and I rode to check the other herd while the girls and our son showered. By the time we were done, we were both stiff from sitting. It’s funny how your body stiffens up and the walk to the house was painful. lol We’re getting old.
We were done well before noon, but honestly, it’s hard work and we were all exhausted.
Now, I don’t want to gross anyone out, but my feet and jeans were covered in cow manure up to my knees, I had it up both arms and on my face. My shirt was soaked with sweat and my hair was wet with it, too. I definitely needed a shower.
But there were no clean towels.
I’d put a load of laundry in the washer before we’d gone out that included the two towels Watson and I use. We’ve had guests at our cabin who walked off with towels and we’ve kept replacing them with towels from our house. I have one extra towel, and I’d given that to Julia.
Not taking a shower wasn’t an option, so, don’t tell my mom, but I got a roll of paper towels out and decided I was going to dry off with them. (If you absolutely have to tell my mother, please make sure that you mention that I wrung them out and reused them repeatedly.)
Anyway, I have my paper towels, and I’m all ready to get in the shower, except, when I turn it on, there’s not enough water pressure left to push the water up through the shower head. Just a little stream of water coming out the faucet.
The plug in our tub doesn’t work.
Still, this chick needed a shower. So, I’m kneeling, my tired, sore body scrunched down in the tub, using the little trickle of water and twisting and straining to get my whole head under it to wet my hair. I reach back for the shampoo. The bottle is empty.
I admit, I leaned my forehead on the tub and tried not to criggle. (Which is a half cry half laugh.)
Ha. So, yeah, I used soap to wash my hair, paper towels to dry off on and at least I was conserving water by only using a trickle, right?
Just an endnote – at dinner the kids laughed at how 16 has a thing for me. During the meal they came up with a new name for her that even has an acronym: AKEM. Her name is a bit unwieldy: Attack, Kill and Eat Mom.