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The 4th of July starts out...

Sue R

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Today dawned cool and damp - a strong storm yesterday afternoon left a lot of dampness in its wake, and everything here was shrouded with cool fog this morning. A good set of conditions for working the cow herd, avoiding the heat and crankiness that a hot and muggy afternoon would bring.


Because fertilized eggs in cattle may not implant due to stress, we have just been using Celt since the bull was turned in with the cows about the first of June. While Dan is making nice progress in his training, he is still turbo-charged and youthfully over-exhuberant. And, even without any work going on, the approach the cows feel towards him is obviously not the relaxed one they feel towards Celt. The first-timers, in particular, do not trust Dan and so we are giving him a "break" from work until later in the month, when everyone should be safely settled.


The herd was on the house (and working) side of the road. Celt gathered all (they were ready to go, knowing that moving meant new, fresh pasture) and handily helped Ed and myself put them in the working pens. For years, Celt was such an instinct-driven dog that it was hard to sometimes do a job with him - it was a fight because his instinct demanded he do one thing when what we really needed was something else. Since we lost Bute (who was definitely a job-understanding and job-accomplishing dog, but one with less natural instincts), Celt has come to understand a certain job is to be done, and is able to work with little input from me to get it done right. No longer only reading the stock, he's reading the job, and putting himself to work to accomplish what needs doing.


I cooled him down after penning the herd and put him in the working chute so he'd be nearby for work but not affecting the cattle. Ed and I went to work, separating off about six cows from the herd and putting them in the small pen, where Ed would proceed to spray each thoroughly. Then we'd let them out. We did four groups of cows, about half the calves in one group, and then the last batch of cows. Then Ed let me use Celt to bring the final half of the calves from the larger pen (about the size of a round training pen) into the small pen where we could crowd them and Ed could readily spray them. And then Celt got to put them out.


Usually, we don't keep any dog out with us when working because the cows can get pretty upset over their babies being confined and worked while they are outside. But they were so eager to eat the fresh grass and white clover that they didn't pay the least bit of attention to the calm and quiet work going on in the pen, so Celt could safely help. And, working without a dog in the pen is an excellent opportunity for me to learn and practice reading the stock myself, and placing myself to accomplish a goal - which is always useful.


Once done with the spraying, Ed set out with Molly on lead (my old gray mare is now 28 years old and firmly a member of the cow herd), and Celt and I gathering up the grazing herd to follow (Celt, bless his heart, was happy to cover the most ground. He paced himself very nicely, keeping laggards from getting left behind as Ed and Molly made their way to the gateway into the south hayfield, baled about two weeks ago and now in a very tasty stage of growth.


I took Molly, and Celt held the cattle to the fence while Ed got the gateway open, took Molly and went ahead, as the cattle spilled into the corner of the hayfield. After Celt flanked here and there to get the last of the calves through the gateway, he went around to guide the cattle out of the hayfield and through the next gate and across the road. Over the years, the cows have learned the way to go and readily went, and all Celt had to do was keep the slowpokes moving along, and then cast around to keep the herd at the west end of the field, so we could easily move them uphill and through the gate to new pasture.


I led Molly up the hill but I could not see Celt for the longer grass, all the cattle, and the fog - so I just had to guess where he was from the behavior of the cows, and flank him and/or urge him to walk up. When I did finally see him, he was right where the cows had indicated by their glances and their movement, and it was a good exercise for me in watching the stock, not the dog, to know what the dog was doing and what I needed to do and say to get the cattle where I wanted them.


Celt's tired now and happy, the cows have not lifted their faces out of the grass and clover, and all is well. Well, except that the good haying weather that was predicted (Ed was going to cut today) is not now predicted to be quite so good. We had hoped to have all the hay cut and baled this week but it's looking a bit dubious now. Drat.


Still too damp to pick berries so I guess it's housework and bookkeeping for me for a little while, until Ed calls me out to help with some fencework, to prep the next field for mowing - when the weather allows!


Happy Birthday, USA, and a very Happy and Safe 4th of July to all!

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Thanks! Molly raced for six years at cheap tracks and (it's a long story) wound up here. I rode her for quite a few years but I have not ridden in some time now. Funny how a regular job and other responsibilities can cut into your fun time.


When we lost Lisa's horse (to lightning), Molly did fine for a few weeks alone until 4th of July, when neighboring fireworks on both sides of the pasture sent her crashing through the fence to the santuary of the cow herd. She has been an honorary cow ever since. She never bites or kicks them, but she will give them the old mean snake-eyes face when she wants them to clear her a path.


They, in their turn, accept her and will follow her to new pasture. At 28, she still thinks the only two gaits are walk and race, but she's got a sweet and gentle nature and is always watching out for her cows. She just doesn't understand why they don't want to kick and run about like she does when turned into new pasture. Silly cows, all about grazing. But, when they are in a playful mood, she's ready to play with them.


She and the bull had a little playtime this morning on the way to the pens. They are companions when the bull is batching it for a few months each spring.

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She and the bull had a little playtime this morning on the way to the pens. They are companions when the bull is batching it for a few months each spring.

This makes me clap my hands and squeal a little. I have no clue about horses or cattle, but interspecies animal play is very cool!

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My old Arab, Emmy loves her sheep. She gets to be buddies with the rams. A couple of the ram really adore her, and one in particular, Dutch, and would hang out under her belly. They used to trot around the pasture together. The ram (Dutch) would lay down and go to sleep and Emmy would stand over him. I would see them touch noses and then go to sleep. Prince was another ram who loved Emmy. She also helped raise them when they were born.


Sometimes they would get a wild hair and race about thepasture....Emmy would kick and buck and the ram would toss their heads. They would do a couple of laps around the upper part of the pasture, then suddenly quit and graze.


When I would go riding, Dutch would race to the edge of the fence and cry for her. Emmy would whiney back and it would go on until they couldn't hear each other. When I would get home, Dutch would race up to her and sniff her all over. Emmy would sniff him all over and then would settle down.


When the ewes would pasture lamb, Emmy would hover over the birthing ewe. She would not let anything near the ewe and lamb, including eagles. Most of the ewes, Emmy was their "birth Arab" also...she has overseen at least 7 generations on the farm.



They run to her for protection and she gets the snake head/ears at the offending dog, coyote or whatever.


It is quite interesting how they "adopt" each other.

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Your old mare's story just makes me smile. :) A friend of mine bought an older mare from foundation Quarter Horse lines, hoping to get a foal from her. The mare never took, but she turned out to be a great nanny for other mares' foals, at weaning time. I think that old girl lived to be 32 years old, living out her days as a nanny-mare. Your girl with the calves and rams is even better though, I think. :)


Thanks again for sharing!


~ Gloria

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