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Saturday, February 28 2015

The beauty of aging is that with gray hair comes wisdom.

"Pick your battles."

That is the probably the wisest advice you can take for anyone raising kids, stallions, rams, bucks, bulls, or husbands. Assess their behavior, decide where it lies on your scale of 'will not tolerate' and act accordingly. Be consistent, be fair, don't lose your temper, and above all, recognize when a little behavior can grow to something more serious in the future.

Jethro is my first bottle-raised buck. In the past all my bucks and rams have been pasture raised, thus they have had a tiny mistrust of humans. Because I know how big he will become, I've been careful not to make Jethro a pet. I handle him, but I don't pal around with him and love on him like I do the girls. He has wether friends and cows for companionship. The problem with that is that no one really checks him when his play gets too rough. The wethers are too little, and the cows . . . I mean, what's too rough for a cow?

Yesterday I stole a moment to play in the pasture with my camera. It was a cold and windy day, and Jethro was in rare form. He wanted to play - with me. I don't care how tiny and cute they are, don't let rams or bucks or bulls, or stallions play rough with you. Testosterone is not your friend. That silly play can escalate into something really dangerous, not necessarily today, but in the future. A healthy respect for humans is important for your safety and theirs. Many deadly farm animals started out as pets that were allowed to play rough with humans.

I like Jethro. I'd like to keep him for quite a while. Thus, it's important that Jethro understand humans are not toys. Let me state the obvious: You cannot hit or kick a farm animal hard enough to gain its respect for very long. Unless the correction is very well timed and shocking enough to get their attention, you merely gain their interest as a worthy opponent.

I do not spar with farm animals.

That is not to say that I intended to put up with any crap from a juvenile Jethro. So deflecting Jethro's attempts to play, I made my way out of the pasture, and returned with my bodyguard, who had been watching this from her kennel.  She needed no instruction. She simply slithered into place by my side.

 This is the face of The Law. She has an innate ability to read livestock and understand when a challenge has been issued. She knew Jethro was being disrespectful and she was ready to address the issue. This is Clint Eastwood, tossing his pancho over his gunbelt to free up his pistol.

Jethro saw the dog and was initially put off, but then any common sense he had fluttered off in the cold wind, and he trotted toward me again, shaking his ears. The dog stalked forward about four feet. I'll give her credit. She gave him the chance.

He stared at her. She stared at him. The soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western began.

And a gust of breeze took any brains Jethro had left, so he dismissed the dog, and bounced at me again. And Lily darted out like a cobra and bit him right in the nose.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  (Cue Aretha Franklin)

"Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me . . ."

It was a perfectly timed correction. Jethro hightailed it away to reconsider. He stood at a distance and thought about it. The buck shook his ears and postured a bit. The dog just stood there, waiting for him to make her day.

"I think I'll go play with the cows."

And the clouds parted. Jethro had a moment of clarity and decided that he didn't want to wrestle with me anymore. He'd rather play with the cows. He shook his head at us and trotted away to join the cattle. I was then able to go about playing with my camera in peace.

Is Jethro dangerous? No. Absolutely not. He is a big, goofy boy, not even a year old, just trying to figure out who he is  in the world. He likes humans and we like him. But if I allow him to jump on us, and butt us, and disrespect us, he will become dangerous. So for our safety and his, it's just best to have my canine bodyguard at hand.


"Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me . . ."

Listen to Aretha Franklin:

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Another great post! Loved all the pictures but loved the last picture most of all!
Posted by Sue on 02/28/2015 - 11:08 AM
I enjoy learning more about farm animals from your great stories of life on the farm. Love that Lily is so great at her job. Great pic at end of big enforcer and baby-wanna-be-enforcer.
Posted by Sharon on 02/28/2015 - 12:53 PM
A well timed correction is priceless.
Posted by Patty on 02/28/2015 - 02:52 PM
Wooo, look at them hackles on him! I can just see that impertinent head shake, lol. Good girl, Lily!
Posted by Anna on 02/28/2015 - 07:21 PM
You are so right about not making bucks into pets! I sell Boer goats, and am constantly explaining this to newbie customers, especially the ones who buy bucklings to bottle raise. When they tell me "look how cute he is when he (choose one) stands up and puts his front feet on me/jumps on my back when I squat down/wants to give me kisses/etc etc," I take them to the buck pen and show them the 260 lb 2-year-old, and say "what about when he's this size and has horns as big around as my forearm?" I like bucks that are tame enough to handle for routine care but who don't "love" me. "Respect" me is much better!
Posted by Sue on 03/01/2015 - 01:33 PM
The pictures don't quite capture Jethro's true size. He is very tall and weighs probably 100 lbs or more. He will get much larger. It is so important that he understands he must respect humans. Lily is 39 lbs, but she is just the dog to teach him respect.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 03/06/2015 - 11:49 AM

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