I’ve ended the old year….and have begun a new year…chasing cows. I’ve had a Houdini steer for awhile. If I kept him in a field by himself he never strayed but he bellowed night and day to be with his friends. If I relented and let him hang out with the gang, well, he ended up out of their field – and in my garden, hay barn, chicken yard, back yard and more. I wondered if the gang was helping him escape! Can’t you just picture cow “leap frog”?
Then yesterday, when I went to drop hay, I found Tiny Moo Too out of the field and enjoying her freedom!
She’s a sassy, feisty thing and was running and kicking her heels up…and enjoying the grass in that field. I spent an hour chasing her in the Kubota (awfully hard for just one person to wrangle a cow back into it’s field – there is strength in numbers!). All naughty cows are put into our pond field – it’s pretty tight and no one has escaped from there. But…how are they getting out?
I do a head count twice a day when I feed the gang. When I went out to drop hay for their evening meal, all seemed well. After I parked the tractor, I took the kubota to pick up the netting and to pitch the dropped hay into the bed of the kubota. Low and behold I saw a cow headed to a far field that we don’t use in the winter. I watched it cross the creek! What the heck was going on?
By the time I managed to get through three fields and two fences (on foot), I could tell it was Nettie. She was headed across another creek towards the neighbors field. Nettie is also headed to Freezer Camp because of an udder abnormality. When that happens, you need to cull because it could be passed to her baby if she had a girl. It wasn’t found till Nettie had her first baby. Thankfully it was a little bull, now a steer.
The problem with Freezer Camp is that they are booked out 18 months – all of them locally – and we have at least 3 or 4. I am on the wait list for two of them. I think I will call Monday and beg!
I went back through those fields and jumped into the Kubota to get some grain to lure her. When I got back, she was headed down the lane at our neighbors which would take her right out onto a road! I ditched the Kubota, jumped in my car and made a bee-line to my neighbor’s house. Pulled in and knocked on the door – hoping he could jump on his four wheeler and encourage her to head home. No answer!
I sat in the car and prayed as I watched her mosey around for a bit and slowly head back towards the lane that would take her home. Prayers answered – she headed back down that lane. I high-tailed it home, ditched the car, jumped in the Kubota – back through three fields, two electric fences and found Nettie back on our property but on the other side of the creek. (Note to self…2022 will be THE YEAR OF FENCING!)
I got as close to the edge of the creek bank as I could and began shaking the bucket of grain….EVERY SO SLOWLY, she began to move my way. She took her time though – she was enjoying the blackberry brambles along the creek edge. Finally she jumped over to my side and stuck her head in the bucket! Slooowwwly I began to edge that bucket back towards the fence line to the field I wanted her in. I had called for back up and my son was on the way to help. I just needed to get her into the pond field!
Nettie would NOT go past that line…I moved the electric tape back out of the way just in case she was afraid to cross it on the ground. Didn’t help. I tried walking back and forth so she could see it was safe. Didn’t help. I tried going behind her to get her to move forward…she just turned around and headed towards the creek. Quickly got her turned around again and tried to lure her with cow cookies. Nope! If I moved that green bucket into the field she stopped.
Did I mention that I was trying to keep my previous two escapees in the field while the fence was down? Did I mention that we were having 25 mile an hour winds with 45 mile an hour wind gusts as a severe thunderstorm was headed our way? Did I mention that it was almost dark?
I head a “thumping” and saw my son running down the hill towards me. He literally walked up to Nettie, she looked up at him and that stinker WALKED RIGHT INTO THAT FIELD! I kid you not! I put the electric tape back up. We jumped in the kubota and headed up the hill. My son wanted to investigate to see how the heck this was happening. He grabbed some axes, a scythe, the voltage testers for the electric fence and we were off.
I thought they were getting out around the hay feeder – I’d found several broken posts there and had spent time repairing fence lines twice after the last two escapees got out.
My son decided on a different approach. We headed away from that field – went through a different field, through our bamboo forest (gosh that stuff grows FAST!) and came into the field from the other side. We didn’t have to go far to see the problem!
A huge tree had come down last week in a bad storm! and the other end of this whopper lay right across the electric fence!
Thankfully it didn’t snap the fence but it did pull it right down to the ground. All the cows had to do was step over it! This was our second downed tree in 10 days from storms. The last tree, even bigger, crushed a gate on our corral!
My son made quick work with the ax and then cleared some weeds with the scythe. It was almost dark, extremely windy and the rain was just beginning.
He’ll be back soon to clean up this fence line. I’ll be down there with my little chain saw to clean up what I can before he comes back. We found a lot of dead trees along that creek. They will have to be dealt with too. None of this was visible from the other side of the field or from the house which sits up above this field.
I’m grateful that the cows are safely in their fields tonight (so far anyway!). Grateful that Nettie didn’t make it to the road and hurt someone or get hurt herself. I’m grateful for all of the unexpected fire wood I can harvest. And I’m very grateful for a son who came running when his mama called for help. This son is 25 miles away so that was a sacrifice on his part!
I made it inside before the storm unleashed itself. Walked my shepherd and slathered my self with some essential oils for stress, covered my feet with my herbal soothing salve for some relief and am tucked in with my computer and a good book to ride out the storm!
Do you keep cows? Do you chase escapees too? Share your crazy cow story in the comments!