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Saturday, March 30 2013


Four years ago yesterday, we found this adorable little ball of fluff in a cattle feedlot in North Texas.


She has been my best friend every since. So in honor of her "Got-Day" Lily received a new collar (big whoop) and a Birthday Bone!  (Yeee haaa!)  She began celebrating her Got-Day at exactly 12:20 AM on Friday morning.


 She then participated in a popcorn party in her honor.

"No it wasn't! We have popcorn parties every Friday night. . . "

The better part of the next day was spent hauling hay. Lily and Trace rode to get the first load. Then Lily supervised the tractor operation as I hauled the round bales out to the pasture while Other Half and Trace went to get another load.

And that's when the day really got exciting:

Put two horses in barn so I can drive tractor in pasture. Get a round bale and take it to horses in roping arena. They see opened gate and blast past tractor to cavort about pasture.  Grrr.... Unload round bale for them and exit arena. They are still racing around pasture. Since there is little hope of getting both of them back in arena without halters, get off tractor and open gate to rye grass pasture. They race inside. Close gate and get back on tractor. Go get a round bale for cattle in the back pasture.

Problem: Cows have seen that horses are in rye pasture and ALSO want in rye grass.

So instead of following tractor with hay, they meander through opened gate. They are now in front horse pasture - next best thing to rye pasture to a cow.

Baby calves are bucking and bouncing while momma cows settle down to the important task of grazing illegal grass.

There is NO WAY I can get the cows back up without saddling a horse or using Border Collies.  Opt for dogs.

BIG Problem:  These are cow/calf pairs - the most dangerous cattle to work with dogs.

Decide to use Cowboy and Lily instead of Ranger because Cowboy listens better and this job requires finesse.

Go get excited dogs who have already assessed the problem from their kennels. They race to pasture. I remind them to wait at gate. This is a job that requires teamwork and planning.

Momma Cows see us as we walk toward them. Smart cows turn around and begin to meander back toward their pasture. Not-So-Smart-Cows (and one Badass Cow) stare at dogs and say, "Make me."

Problem: Calves see dogs and are immediately intrigued. Instead of following the Smart Cows, they hang back to examine the dogs.  ("Danger!  Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!")

Badass Cow raises her eyebrows and shoots a laser beam at dogs. She mutates into a Water Buffalo (REALLY BAD-ASS COW!) and snorts at dogs.  The dogs hold their ground. I note cow's mutation and decide perhaps we have bitten off more than we can chew. Do not want to get Lily killed on her Got-Day (or any other day).  Cowboy breaks and makes a pass toward Water Buffalo.

She bellows like a Hollywood Cow and thunders at him. He slides under barbed wire fence into rye pasture. She hits fence. Backs up. Hits fence again. And again. And again. Each impact is punctuated with loud bellows.  This cow has totally lost leave of her senses. The calves are intrigued. The dogs are intrigued. I am horrified.

How in the heck am I gonna get these cattle safely back in the pasture without getting one of the dogs stomped to death?

Stare at problem for a moment. She stops ramming fence and moves back to the calves who are standing in a group, gaping like spectators at a NASCAR crash. This is bad, Bad, BAD on so many levels. I continue to stare at Water Buffalo while she glares at all of us. Lily is trembling with anticipation at beside me. She is ready to address Uppity Cow. She doesn't retreat like Cowboy does. But then again, sometimes retreat is the better part of valor. After all, Cowboy is still alive.  In the same situation, Trace would have been a greasy brown spot in the grass by now.

And Lily, I didn't even want to think about that . . .

So we stand there, the dogs and I, staring at the Water Buffalo.  And that's when I see something that gives me a glimmer of hope. Most of the cattle have already meandered back through the opened gate. They want no part of the dogs. In fact, everyone but Stupid Paisley, some calves, and The Water Buffalo have already moved on.  If we can just hold our ground and maybe push a few steps forward, they might follow the herd.

So I wait. The dogs glare at the cows. The Water Buffalo glares at us all. But given a minute to think, she realizes that the rest of the herd has left her. She thinks about it for a moment. Then she lowers her head, gives us a snort, and backs toward the opened gate, pushing calves with her.  And the sun shines again. Until . . .

Stupid Paisley decides she is having none of it.  The Water Buffalo and the calves are already through the gate when Paisley says,

"Nope. I'm not going. I want Horse Grass. Screw the Human. Screw the dogs. I'm getting Horse Grass."

And she makes a break for it. Lily and Cowboy are on it. They turn her around and send her back toward the gate.

Unfortunately the Water Buffalo sees it too. Like a train she runs for the dogs - right into the barbed wire fence. She has failed to calculate (or doesn't care) that the dogs are still in the Horse Pasture. Water Buffalo hits that wire and bounces back. And hits it again. And again. And again. And as before, she bellows in rage.

I call the dogs back. I am in shock. They are giggling. Lily's Got-Day is complete. She has gotten to bite Paisley. 

I am still shaking. Her short little life has flashed before my eyes. I hear the familiar chant in the back of my head,

"I hate cows in the spring time. I hate cows in the fall. I hate cows..." (to the tune of "I Love Paris.")

Other Half and I have a regular argument about this. As far as I'm concerned, cattle are big and stupid, and dangerous. Sheep and goats are much easier to handle. But convincing a Cow Man of this is like spittin' in the wind.

So the dogs and I walk back to the house. They are a bit disappointed that the chore didn't involve more running, but are otherwise pretty satisfied.  I put them back in a kennel run and climb back on the tractor to haul more round bales.  As I drive, I think about cattle and cow dogs.

We simply cannot work cow/calf pairs with the dogs until the calves are much older. Water Buffalo belongs on the North Texas ranch. Her babies will survive quite well. No coyote will cross that bitch.  She needs to be on the first cattle trailer headed to north. We can keep the 'less than dedicated' mothers down south but she is definitely slated to move with the group headed north.  

Other Half and Trace return with another load of hay.

I catch him up on our latest adventure. We unload hay and head for a well-deserved meal. (Our first of the day. It is almost 5 pm.) A steak. He wants a steak. 

So we sit down to two rib-eyes and discuss dogs, cows, and Got-Days. After gorging ourselves there is still plenty left over. Enough for another meal. But do we get a to-go box for the lunch the next day?



A friend of mine later pointed out the poetic justice of letting the cow dogs eat steak after their encounter with the Water Buffalo.

She said, "Look who's on top of the food chain now!"

Good point, Dani. Good point.





Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
I can see it in my mind's eye been there before not with cattle but any number of smaller hoofs all doing their thing when I want them in the shearing race. I have to plan my moves for days as they get locked up into smaller and smaller areas till there is only the chute and small yard full of temptation. I have no suitable dogs so human cunning is called for:)
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust) on 03/30/2013 - 05:41 PM
HAPPY Got-Day, lovely Lily!
Posted by Terri's Pal on 04/02/2013 - 05:30 PM
It's like the scene from The Jerk when Navin R. Johnson sees his name in the phone book. "I'm someone!" I feel the same way...I made Sheri's webpage...I'm someone for sure now!
Posted by Dani Ezer on 04/05/2013 - 04:53 PM
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 04/07/2013 - 09:24 AM

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