Yesterday was a really, really bad day

Miguel noticed that we had a pig in our finishing paddock that had hurt itself. It had injured its mouth and didn’t appear that it could eat. We were able to catch the pig but found that we didn’t have the right stuff with us to treat her. When we returned with the tools and medicine we needed, the pig was onto us and wouldn’t get within 50 feet of anyone. We tried enticing the pig with food with no luck. We tried chasing the pig. Yeah right. We tried using hog panels. The pig weight 250 pounds and blew right through the panel. Miguel explained that Mexicans were sneaky, so we’d wait till the pig laid down and he’d sneak up on her and jump on her. Miguel has been skipping lunch lately apparently because when he landed on the pig, she just stood up and threw him off before I could close a 15 foot distance and add my weight. After a few hours of chasing this pig, we were defeated.

We finally decided that we’d wait till Thursday, the next day, because Vicente would be here!! Well first thing Thursday morning we all three tried again. We tried sneaking. Nope. Chasing. Nope. Hog panel. Nope. In the process of trying to corner the pig, she bolted through us and tried to jump over some fallen logs. In the process she ripped open her leg, badly. Like 30 stitches needed badly. And she still wouldn’t get within 50 feet of anyone. The wound didn’t slow her down at all. There was no choice at that point but to shoot her and dress her out here on farm. I really took my time to get a clean shot as this pig had already been through enough. Lucky the shot was clean and Miguel, Vicente, and I quickly scalded, scraped, and gutted her.

A pig being taken to the cooler
Heading towards the cooler

She’s now hanging in the cooler waiting to be broken down into cuts. Oh, and when I was gutting her I found that her stomach was full so she was eating. Although we had to treat her no matter what so the only thing is at least she didn’t die hungry.

After we finished with the pig, we had to go get a crazy cow that was still at the neighbors. This cow went crazy when it was time to leave last week and gave us a merry chase around the pasture, then down the road as it blasted through a gate and escaped. This cow was definitely channeling the Ninja Cow and I was worried after the disaster of the pig, that this cow would be just as bad. I was right to worry. He was actually worse.

When we arrived at the pasture, with food in tow to bait the cow into the corral, we found horses that weren’t supposed to be in the pasture had been put in by our neighbors. So much for using food. The only option was to work the cow into the paddock by walking him in there. We borrowed a four wheeler and started trying to work the cow in. Any normal cow has flight zones where you can apply pressure and direct the cow where you want it to go. It’s not a perfect science, but it works most of the time. You close on the right shoulder, the cow turns left. You stay parallel to the shoulder, the cow moves at the same pace. You drift back to the hip bone, the cow speeds up. I’ve been moving cows this way my whole life. It works. As I worked this cow across the pasture, it literally did everything wrong. No matter what pressure was applied, the cow went the wrong way, period. That’s exactly what it did in the other pasture when my neighbor was trying to move it. This cow was wild, and crazy. Instead of applying pressure to the cow and it reacting, I literally had to push it the direction I wanted it to go. Understand this is from a moving four wheeler while the cow is at full gallop. Not something I’d recommend. I’ve never seen a cow react this way. This thing was one of a kind.

Finally we got the cow into the paddock area. It immediately tried to go through a wooden fence and “got its head stuck.” I put that in quotes because as soon as I jumped off the four wheel it magically freed itself and tried to bolt past everyone now on foot. Rather than let the cow escape back into the pasture I jumped on the cow’s head and began to bull dog it down to the ground so he couldn’t get away. Think of those guys who jump off their horses onto the cow’s head at the rodeo.

Kind of like this, but without the hat

At the same time Miguel grabbed the back end of him. I’m not sure what Vicente was doing at this point, probably thinking he should have stayed in Mexico. I think we were pushing opposite directions but once Miguel realized I wanted the cow on the ground he went right down.

Ear tag of the crazy cow
Ear tag of the crazy cow

Finally, we had the cow down and thanks to Vicente being home we had someone to grab some ropes and hobble the cow by tying three legs. After that we brought up the trailer and began trying to work the cow into the trailer to take him to the auction as there was NO WAY he was going back to my farm. Not acting the way he did.

Now we began a process of trying to move 800 pounds of cow with 500 pounds of people. We used a rope to hold his head, and more ropes to keep him somewhat hobbled but with enough freedom of movement to finally go into the trailer. We worked this cow every way I know or have heard of, from being gentle to trying to pick up his front half and set him in the trailer. We finally even resorted to using a hot stick, something I almost never use but have on hand just in case. He fought every inch, every second, and nothing we did would get him to move forward. The closest we ever came was one foot in the trailer, one that Miguel had overpowered him and lifted it in, with him straining with all his might to get it back out. This whole process went on for some time and he never gave an inch. Eventually in all his craziness, he managed to get the rope too tight around his neck and before we could get slack into it, he hung himself and died in a matter of seconds. I was dumbfounded.

I’ve never lost a cow to anything like this, and I’ve never lost a pig the way we did. To have both on the same day made for a horrible day. We walk our cows, rather than run them. We name them. We hand feed them. We are as gentle as we can be with them. We even left this cow alone for a week to calm down rather than push him when he was excited. None of that mattered with this one. When an animal goes wild, there is only so much you can do. If they would let farmers use tranquilizer guns, I’d have one. Sometimes, there just isn’t anything you can do although I’ll be figuring out some sort of solution for going forward. We cannot have a repeat of either situation.

Today is going to be better. I’m not sure how it could be worse but I don’t want to temp fate. I’m just going to go forward saying it will be better and see if it is so.

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