Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Working Cattle

This was the last round of working cattle for this year.  We set out ahorseback at daylight to first gather the cows off their fall pasture, then the replacement heifer calves off the hayfield.
We hadn’t seen the heifer calves in the morning yesterday, and were afraid they’d gotten through a bad stretch of fence up west.  There was a bull in that next field, and I don’t want these heifers bred until next June, so I sent Ted after a horse.  When he found them there were a cow and a calf nearby. 
These were the last stragglers from the summer range, and they were a little wild.  So I saddled a horse, also, to corral them.  They were on a steep side-hill, and it took a lot more time than it should have.
We then headed up west, counting calves as we went through the hayfield – we were indeed ten head short.  We made a big circle through the next field without seeing the heifers, but did find that more bulls had crossed the river from the fall pasture.  We gathered them up and ran them into the corral with the cow and calf we had brought in earlier.
We hadn’t found the heifer calves, and assumed they had crossed the river to join the cows.  But when we brought in the cows this morning, there were no calves among them. So when the cows were in the lot, I sent Ted after what calves were still in the hayfield while I ran up onto the bench above the hayfield to look for the strays.
We’d already put on a few miles gathering the cows, and now I put on a couple more miles up onto the bench and back around the rimrocks – but still nothing.
I got back in time to help Ted corral the calves he had gathered, then went to the house to set up the tools, medications, and beverages for working the cattle.  In the meantime Ted rode on up to check the aspens above the barn.
He still hadn’t found them, so he went on to the top of the ridge and followed a trail just below the rimrocks which took him around and above the winter pasture up west.  There he finally found the stray calves, and arrived at the corrals just as the veterinarian pulled in.  He’d made about twelve miles in some rough country in the last 3 hours!
First we ran the calves through the chute to give them vaccinations, brucellosis tattoo, insecticide pour, and EID button: an electronic tag that can be scanned from a distance.  Then we ran the cows through for vaccinations, pour, and pregnancy testing.

We haven’t had significant cold or snow yet this year, so the cows will be on their own out in pasture for a while longer.  But we’ll still be keeping shoes on a couple of horses: winter shoes over rim pads to keep their feet from balling up with snow.

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