|Sampson and Nutty, the two biggest bulls now, spar to see who’s the biggest|
Some big changes have happened recently – we lost Night Hawk, we got a new buck (he’s even stinkier than before – the girls are still not going for it), and our big bull Explorer went off to a new farm to see about some cows over there. He’ll be back in a couple of months.
It was very tense getting him in the stock trailer. I thought about it all week, and especially the night before, trying to figure out how we were going to convince him to go in. He is a huge bull, and I’m terrified of him. He could easily kill me, and although he’s generally laid-back and nice, large male animals should NEVER be trusted. The best I could think of was that we could back the trailer in, lure him over with peanut hay, put up some cattle panels behind him, and coax him in gently in the smaller space. It didn’t work exactly like that in real life, of course.
Ken, the guy who is borrowing him, pulled his large, red stock trailer up and we parked it in the gate. It felt slightly ironic for it to be so large and red, and we were trying to get a bull into it – calmly.
Ethan wanted to just have Explorer in the paddock to make things easier to manage. I had always imagined letting everyone in, so this was different from my plan. Of course Geranium and Lichen let themselves in, too. Geranium was easily led out, but Lichen just hung around and got in the way.
While I was still at the gate, Ethan and Ken began trying to herd Explorer towards the trailer. This pissed him off, and he began tossing his horns and leaping around unpredictably. I came down and asked them to stay back, because Explorer was clearly very afraid of Ken, and he has never liked Ethan. I hand-fed and petted him a lot when he was small, so he has always liked me.
This calmed him down, and I got him and Lichen into the smaller area, and we put up the cattle panels – no, not exactly, we only had short hog panels to make-do with instead. He was very nervous, especially with Ken and Ethan getting between him and his cows, so I suggested bringing Matilda in. We did, and that calmed him down a lot. She woolfed down the hay and barley I had set out for him, and he stayed back. Once he sniffed the edge of the trailer. We went through a lot of barley and hay. Finally, Ethan jumped in and tried to get him in the trailer. Lichen got even more in the way, while Matilda polished off the hay I had on the back of the trailer. Explorer got very upset and jumped clear over the cattle panels.
That was very disappointing. Ethan wanted to put Matilda in the trailer, but she was wise to it, and wouldn’t go. I suggested following my original plan to have more of the herd in with us, to calm him down. We did both ideas, and it worked. I made a Hansel-and-Gretel trail of hay to the stock trailer, and the big mama cows came barrelling straight for it. Geranium, the greediest, was easily put in the stock trailer, and Explorer was quick to follow. The door was shut, and he was in!
But that wasn’t the last of it – we had to get Geranium out around him, and then shut him in the front of the trailer (so he didn’t get knocked around so much on the drive – it’s safer). I went to let the mamas back in with the calves, who were freaking out that they were missing something (they hadn’t come in with everyone else). I just heard Ken and Ethan fiddling with the door a bunch, and then huge booms as Explorer kicked around. Finally he was settled and they drove away.
Flora mooed after him – he’s her brother, and they have a special bond. I tried to tell her he was off for some fun, but she kept mooing. It seems very calm without him. And it’s really remarkable how long the hay bales last now.
Before all that craziness got started, I had gone up to check on the herd. Everyone had been napping in the middle of the field, chewing cud. I saw everyone except Matilda’s new baby. I was surprised she was laying down without him. All the other calves were right next to their mamas. But often the babies will hide when they are new, just as they would in the wild. I walked around and didn’t see him for awhile. I finally found him curled up in a pile of brush and branches. I could see him breathing, but I wanted to check to make sure he was okay. I ran my hand down his back, and even rubbed his face and head. He didn’t get up as I expected, but curled up more tightly. It worried me. Matilda came over and sniffed at him, and then went away again. I had to leave because Ken was coming, and I needed to get the goats out of the way first.
After Explorer left, I asked Ethan to see what he thought about the calf. We walked up together, and found him in the same place, same position. Not sleeping, but curled up tightly. We both rubbed his back and tried to get him to move. He seemed to curl up more tightly. Finally, Ethan scratched around on his head, and this annoyed him enough that he stood up. Matilda had come over to see what we were doing to him. He wobbled over, pooped a big, yellow colostrum poo, and started nursing.
Looking at them both, I said to Ethan, “I guess he was just tired. Good. I was afraid there was something wrong with him. It’s good he’s nursing.”
Matilda met my eyes just then, and she snorted and shook her horns at me in a gesture of annoyance. I knew she was saying, “How DARE you wake up the baby?!!”