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Tuesday, January 11 2011

True to his word, before we could unload the calves, Other Half insisted that they be tagged and wormed. Oh joy.

Two tired Divas + Three Terrified Calves = Long Night

Other Half collects the necessary items: cydectin, ear tags, bands, band applicator

I examine banding doo-hickey and proclaim that roping calf's testicles are WAAY too big for banding.  Other Half grunts and ignores me.  I again protest that Roping Calf (let's call him "Willie") has testicles that are MUCH larger than the little fat green rubber band that Other Half is planning to use to castrate him.  (a practice which I don't care for . . . I'm just saying . . . )   Other Half ignores me again.  So I put it in words he can understand, "HEY!  His balls are too big for this rubber band!"

"I'll look at 'em and see when we do him," he mutters.

Do what?  Does he think I can't peek through the bars and mentally calculate that a rubber band smaller than a dime is not gonna stretch over balls the size of summer egg plants? Oh well. . .  Since I am not in the mood to argue with him about it, I decide to let him figure it out on his own. He gives instructions on EXACTLY how he wants the cydectin measured and EXACTLY how he wants the new tag set up.  Ok, I got it!  I think.  I hope.  It's not as easy to do when holding a flashlight. Everything must be done with one hand because IT'S DARK!!!!

Other Half climbs into cattle trailer containing three snorting calves with a rope and a wooden crook. He attempts to get one of the beef cows to move into the back of the trailer where it can be isolated. The roping calf is happy to move back there, but NO! Other Half wants one of the little heifers first. Because . . . he wants to castrate the little roping calf.  Now keep in mind, those balls haven't gotten any smaller since I announced that he was too big to be banded, but nevertheless, Other Half refuses to even address the issue until the heifers are done.  Okie dokie Smokie!

He finally gets the little white calf in the back. Then things got interesting. This is how it was supposed to go:

His job:

1) Rope calf
2) Press calf against bars and call for necessary items to be handed through bars

My job:

1) Hand him bull chain/tongs which clip into calf's nostrils (and must hurt like hell) in order to control 230 lbs of bawling cow
2) Pour cydectin on calf's back
3) Hand him ear tag applicator

This is how it actually happened:

His job:

1) rope calf
2) Richochet off bars of trailer while being dragged like a kite on a string by a hysterical calf
3) Yell for tongs
4) cuss

My job:

1) hand him bull chain/tongs
2) argue that he is hurting calf when she starts bawling
3) cuss
4) pour on cydectin
5) hand him ear tag applicator
6) open door to release newly tagged hysterical calf with a purple stripe down her back
7) inform Other Half that when we are retired, we will be too old to handle cows so we should go 100% to sheep now
8) inform Other Half that we are too old NOW for this shit

Re-group -  set up another ear tag. Pour more cydectin. Separate another calf.  Little roping bull (let's call him "Willie") still wants to go first, so this time Other Half let him.  Get Willie into back of trailer. Shut gate so Willie and Other Half are alone.  Convince Other Half that he needs my assistance INSIDE the trailer. He ropes Willie.  Willie is okay with that. Examines Willie's testicles. Proclaims that they are too big to be banded.  (wonder of wonders!) Other Half decides that he will cut him later. Clip tongs on Willie's nose.  Willie says "Damn!  That hurts!" So Willie doesn't move.  He stares at his nose with crossed eyes. I pour on cydectin.

Other Half tags him. We unclip Willie's nose, and open the gate. Wham! Bam!  Thank ya, Willie! Off he goes to join the white calf.  Yessiree, we're in the groove now. 

That's what we thought . . . until he roped the black calf . . .

Holy Crap!

Black calf was certain that she was gonna die. She was a kicking, bawling, bucking maniac. Other Half took that ride like a monkey on a border collie at the county fair. He had a tiger by the tail, afraid to let her go.  I stood in the corner of the trailer and waited for the cyclone to quit spinning.  They finally landed in a corner where he called for the tongs. Okay, I can do that!  Clip!  The bawling commenced in earnest now.  He hooked the rope of the tongs over the top bar of the cattle trailer and pulled poor little black calf up by her nose.  Lots more bawling, from the cow and me.  Then he made a mistake.  He handed me the end of the rope. . .

In my defense, a man should NEVER hand a woman the end of rope with a hurting, hysterical calf on the other end.  Feeling sorry for said calf, the woman will immediately release some pressure on the cow's nose.  Now two things happen when you do this:

1) The man will scream loudly in a high pitched voice, "NO! NO! NO! Don't let her GO!"
2) The calf will feel the release of pressure on her nose, shake her head, and guess what  . . .  Dude . . . the tongs will fall off . . .

And the rodeo was on again.  There was lots of screaming, cussing, and bawling  (most of that was from Other Half). It took a while but we finally got her wrestled into the corner again. This time everyone (me!) followed instructions and the calf was wormed, tagged, and released without further incident. We thought . . .

Shortly after she bounced out of the trailer to find the other calves at the end of the arena, Other Half announced that one of the calves must have really been bleeding from that ear tag.  Huh???

None of the cows were bleeding.  That's when we discovered that Other Half was the one bleeding . . . a lot. The thumb of his glove was filled with blood.  Blood had dripped all over the floor of the trailer.  He gingerly pulled the glove off.  It made the skin on my butt crawl. 

Somehow . . . some way . . . after "Someone" let up the nose-pressure, thus releasing the cow, the lariat attached to a 270 lb bucking bawling baby had gotten wrapped across his thumb in such a way that it ripped his thumb and split it under the nail.  (ouch!)

So Other Half stood there in the trailer, with blood running down his hand, and he asked me, "So what have you learned about cows today?"

I didn't even hesitate.  With firm conviction I announced, "I learned that SHEEP are easier to handle!"

(He was not amused.)

Sidenote: We put food in a trough for the calves. It became apparent that the black and white calves had not seen a feed trough before.  In fact, it appeared that they had not been properly weaned, just ripped off their mammas and taken to the sale.  Thus, they spent a good bit of time bawling at the fence while our more maternal cows rushed over to comfort them. The little scrawny roping calf however, KNEW what a feed trough was.  He KNEW what groceries were. Over the next day and half, he taught his companions how to eat from a trough. When we worked the dogs on them, he was calm and led the way to sanity (unlike the white calf!) so well that Other Half mentioned that if he remains so calm and well-behaved, he may be a good teaching steer for other additional dog training calves, and thus we might consider keeping him for said position.  So I said to him, "Hey, if we keep him, I'm gonna name him 'Willie!'

He glanced at me, with his hand still dripping blood in the darkness. Something crossed his mind but he didn't say it out loud. Probably best . . .

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:53 am   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email
"Wonder of wonders" LOL!! I know they weigh 250+ pounds and could put the hurt on you (See OH's thumb)---I still feel like they're babies. I guess you did too. Poor beef calves, no proper weaning. They're gonna need therapy before they go to market.
Posted by CeeCee on 01/11/2011 - 11:50 AM
Isn't is amazing how much stock handling is done in the dark? Jan
Posted by Jan on 01/11/2011 - 09:30 PM
YES! And it is certainly MUCH harder to do in the dark!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 01/12/2011 - 10:40 AM
Is there a reason all of this couldn't have waited for the next morning and daylight? (Not being snarky, just ignorant).
Posted by CarolG. on 01/12/2011 - 06:26 PM
Good question! It was supposed to rain the next morning. And exactly as predicted, it rained cats & dogs that morning. He peeked out the window and said to me, "Now aren't you glad we did everything last night?"
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 01/12/2011 - 07:16 PM
had me laughing. sorry OH's hand was hurt tho!
Posted by Cindy Tennant on 01/12/2011 - 07:32 PM
I just KNEW it was going to be the black one that caused all the trouble. Been there, worked cows in vet school. ;-)
Posted by Libbye on 01/12/2011 - 09:10 PM
YES! It was the BLACK cow! (What is it about black cows?) Other Half was quite upset that I did not put a photo of his bloody thumb on the blog. He actually insisted that I photograph his thumb that night. But the photos were just a bit overexposed (and gross) and so I declined to post them. He was not happy. Apparently that wounded him more than the cow!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 01/13/2011 - 07:25 PM

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