Independence Day Festivities

So backing up a little… One of the tasks we slipped in before the craziness of the county fair was the pre-breeding work with the cattle. It’s a task my brother always helps us with, and as it turned out the stars just happened to align our schedules on the afternoon of July 4th.

The little bull calves become steers, and everyone – calves, cows and bull – gets vaccinated. And the bull finally gets let out of his bachelor pad to begin his duties.

The first step was getting the cows and calves rounded up out of the pasture and up into the yard. No pictures here, because I was out there doing my cowgirl thing. I’m the first to tell you, I’m not much of a cowgirl. I was raised on a hog farm. But all in all that part went pretty smoothly. Then we gate-cut the cows back out into the pasture, leaving the calves behind. That part wasn’t going so smoothly, but fortunately my brother showed up about that time and came to my rescue right about the time I was ready to drop into the fetal position right there in the cattle yard.

Then we ran the calves into the alleyway of the corncrib, where the chute was waiting at the end. Getting a calf to enter the chute, going the right direction, without any of his herdmates along, is harder than it looks! You have to give them just enough of an opening at the end of the chute that they think freedom is right there, and at the right moment catch them in a sort of head lock.

Then Matt holds the tail up, while my brother does the banding.

If I do say so myself, we’ve got some real good-doing calves. Look how big they are already! I think this is probably Dimitry

This is really a 3-person job, but my dad was screening his calls busy that day so I was sort of his stand-in. Initially Matt wanted me to stand in the alleyway behind that little herd of wiley calves. I scoffed at him. So he did it, and this is what happened to him:

One particular calf kicked at him 9 times, and on the 10th time finally nailed him in the shin. This swelled up and turned all sorts of pretty colors the next day. That particular calf’s mother may be on the list for culling this fall.

Olivia got enlisted to help, since Madeline quickly volunteered to babysit Rafe plus my brother’s punks. As always, she dresses awfully nice for farm chores.

This is her “EWWWWW, you’re doing WHAT to those calves?!?” look.

This is her “Seriously?!?” look.

And this is her “No, really!” look.

Now the bull doesn’t really fit through that chute. So the plan was for Matt to run him into the alleyway, where my brother would reach over the top of the alleyway wall and shoot him. At this point Olivia & I hightailed it into the crib, scaredy cats that we are, where I took these pictures through the slats in the crib.

As you can see, the bull was not real down with that plan. But eventually human persevered over bovine, shots were administered, and Mr. Bull finally got his Independence Day and was back with his harem.

2 years ago

Well that was interesting

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5 Responses to Independence Day Festivities

  1. "JEANNELLE" says:

    Oh, my, yes…..what a job, always, the castrating and dehorning. Your photos are great! I don’t envy your having a bull around, though. Husband does AI, thankfully.

  2. I hate banding calves – we just banded the last one on Sunday (we overlooked him earlier this spring thinking bull prospect). I much preferred it when they were cut as day old calves – then I didn’t have to help. At least Mr. Bull gets to have some fun now.

  3. I just noticed in looking at your pictures again – the first one of Matt and the bull – is there a heifer in heat in the background – or 2 steers being gay? (I must tell Todd – I am finally trained to notice these things after 15 years – to bad I’m noticing it on your cows and not our own!!) heheKris

  4. karl says:

    wonderful post and photos to boot.

  5. Twinville says:

    My what a HUGE bull! Matt is so brave. I can imagine if my hubby did that, it would be quite a turn-on for me! heheOlivia is growing up right before our eyes. She’s such a beauty that’s not afraid to get dirty. :)!