Sunday, November 8, 2009

2 am Wake-up Call

Personal note to self: Never say, "not much is happening around here" it only invites trouble which in turn creates an abundance of work!

I guess this is what I get for starting my last post with... "not much is happening around here."

The "trouble" arrived around 2:00 am on Saturday morning. Danny and I were snoozing quite comfortably in our warm toasty bed when Danny all of the sudden bolted upright in bed. I thought he was having one of his dreams, like the irrigating dream, where he tries to set irrigation tubes in bed, or the wolf dream when he actually growls like a wolf trying to frighten away coyotes! He has some pretty imaginative dreams sometimes which can be rather comical at times! But this time he wasn't dreaming, he had heard cattle bawling and thought that it was our cattle. On Thursday, we moved the cattle we had down on the creek, to a field just to the north the house. Danny thought that the cows had broke down the electric wire and were on the loose.

So he jumped out of bed and ran to look out the bedroom window. Through the darkness of the night and what little light there was from the moon, he could see cattle moving down the road heading south. "Get up! The cows are all headed down the road!" Not my idea of a wake up call! Who wants to get up at 2:00 am, get dressed and go chase cows around in the dark? Not me, that's for sure, but it's not a job that one person can easily manage in the day light, let alone in the dark and this is suppose to be a team operation, not a one man business (for better, for worse!) So I jump, well, it was more of an unwilling roll, out of bed and throw on my jeans and a sweatshirt over my jammies.

Danny instructs me to go close gates while he jumps in the pickup truck and heads south down the road after the cows. On my way to closing the gates, I see a few cattle in the field south of house, where cows are not suppose to be. After I get the gates closed, I run into the shop to fetch a spot light so I can see the ear tags of the cows in the field south of the house so I can tell which cows they are. Just about as I am reaching the cows south of the house, Danny is coming back in the pickup. He finds me and tells me that the cows headed down the road are NOT our cows, but a bunch of calves. We shine the spot light on the cows I spotted and find out that these ARE our cows but there are only two of them. We herd these two cows back to the field where they are suppose to be and check out who is all in this field.

Thankfully, it was a mild night and not very cold. After scoping out the field, we find that as far as we can tell (in the dark,) that all of our cattle seem to be there. That was a huge relief! We were still a little worried on the other hand because of all the calves that were on the loose. Sometimes if you have a group of unsettled cows running around, they will get everyone fired-up and we didn't want our cows to get fired-up. Danny figured that these calves had just been weaned and were looking for their mothers. This is one of the reasons we do the cross-fence weaning like I talked about in an earlier post. The calves are not totally separated from their mothers, they are just placed on the other side of the corral and can still see their mothers so chances are that if the calves do get out, they won't be going very far.

There wasn't much else we could do at this point and it was now around 3:00 am. The calves continued to wander around our place bawling and our cows were bawling right back at them, so it wasn't a peaceful night which made it extremely hard to fall back asleep. Just as we were starting to fall back asleep, my alarm went off at 5:00 am. Ugh, why didn't I turn that thing off? Danny is "slightly" irritated with me as he is letting me know that he was just starting to fall asleep. A couple of minutes later, the phone rings. I jump out of bed to answer it and it is one of our neighbors wanting to know if we had cattle out because he was on his way somewhere and saw some on the highway by our house. I told him I didn't think that they were ours, but would go check it out. So once again, I crawl out of bed and get dressed, get in the pickup and drive up to the highway. I didn't see any cattle on the way to the highway so I turn and head east for 1/2 a mile, no cows, so I turn around and head west and go a 1/2 mile or so past our road. No cows there either. So I turn around and head back home and as I get to the turn off to our road, there is a large group of calves coming down our road again, this time headed north.

When I got back home it seemed like there sure was a lot of bawling going on all around our place so I decided to get on the four wheeler and drive it around to make sure that our cows were still contained and also to see how many calves were on our place and where they all were. It was getting a little closer to daylight, so I could see things a little more clearly. I found that our cows were still where they were suppose to be and that there were calves scattered all over our place. The calves were also pretty wild and didn't let me get very close to them before they would start running away from me.

By the time I got back to the house it was close to 6:00 am. I hadn't been in the house for very long when the phone rang. This time it was another neighbor who ran a paper route and said that they had seen cattle on the highway by our house. I reassured them that it was not our cattle and thanked them for their concern. By this time, Danny was ready to get out of bed. We thought we might know who the calves belonged to so we called a neighbor to the north and asked if they had weaned some calves recently or if they might be missing some calves. I guess that they had brought in a load of calves late, like 11:30 pm, that night and some of the calves had gotten away from them and yes, the calves were theirs.

I was relieved that we had located the owners and they assured me that they had riders with horses coming over at daylight to start rounding them up. Danny had to get his chores done and go bale the last of our hay while the moisture was up so he could not wait for the guys to show up to get the calves so I would have to be in charge of getting them off our place.

Well, we finally had them all rounded up with the help of pickup trucks, the four wheeler and a couple of cowboys on horses by 11:00 am. We herded all the calves (except for one renegade who had to be roped later by a cowboy on a horse) into our corral with our cows. After we got all our cows sorted off from the calves, we were able to load the calves on a trailer and haul them back home. Whew, what a job. It went smooth, but it was just time consuming. By the time that was all done, I had a splitting head ache and was tired from lack of sleep and hungry since it was lunch time. The neighbor has told me that they had lost about 40-50 calves. We ended up only gathering 15 from our place. I have no idea where the rest ended up.

Danny got home shortly after the calves were loaded and everyone had gone home. After lunch we began the process of getting our place back in order. I think that every fence we had on our place had been broke somewhere by the calves. I already had been working on the fences all through the week and some places that I had repaired already, the little stinky calves had destroyed. We worked repairing the fences until dark. Then today we spent most of the day finishing up the fences.

I do want to mention that the neighbor apologized several times and thanked us for all our help in getting the calves back and also offered to help fix all the fence, but we told him that we could handle it on our own. Of course we told him we could do it ourselves before we had assessed all the damage! He also came back later on Saturday and told us that all the calves had been recovered except for one.

Ahh, the joys of cattle!

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