Every spring we take the momma cows, the baby cows, and the bull over to our other farm so that they can graze their summer away in peace and solitude. It isn’t that big of a deal to get them onto the trailer as we have full cattle facilities here at the main farm. Loading ramp, head gates, scales, basically anything you need to work with cattle.
At our other farm, we had nothing but fencing. We eventually figured out that what we needed was a portable corral, something the AgriSupply conveniently sells. We leave the corral setup all year long and just let the cows wander around wherever they want to go.
Come fall, we need to get the cattle back into this corral so that we can load them on the trailer and move them home. Of course, after a summer of doing just exactly what they please, they are as happy to get into a corral as a 5th grader is to go back to school.
So the trick is to start taking the cows food to our other farm. This means that someone has to load extra food, cart it over, and hand feed it out since we may not have a tractor over there when we start doing this. The cows, who are creatures of habit, start expecting food and showing up at the corral each day. After a week or so, we can take our last load of food, a loading ramp, a tractor, and a truck and trailer. With all the cows in the corral, it is just a matter of herding cows into the trailer and bringing them back one load at a time.
Of course, we always have some summer babies roaming around, so the last load of cows ends up being the elementary school bus load of kids. We don’t want one of the big cows to accidentally step on one of the calves while packed into the trailer, so the little ones ride separate. You’d think that a bunch of little calves would be easy to load but oh no. It is the old momma cows that are easy. They’ve done this 100 times and walk right onto the trailer with maybe some gentle coaxing. The kids? Dumb as rocks. They will go behind the fence, over the gate, walk backwards up the ramp. Anything that makes no sense whatsoever. Luckily they are little so they are easy enough to manage but it is always amusing watching the little calves try to figure things out.
Four trailer loads of cows brought everyone home Monday. Now the finishing herd and the brood herd are together again. There was some pushing and shoving at the pecking order was reestablished but after an afternoon of that everyone has settled down and is happily munching grass.
Before long, we’ll be feeding hay and complaining about winter. Summer is gone already?