Rowdy and Pip have a new place. What an exciting day for them!
We started working on the new cow shed about a month ago. We, in this case, is Mike, two hired men, and me who is aces at supervising, running for beer and sandwiches and occasionally pecking in a nail using 30 or 40 strokes that takes a man maybe six. Nevertheless, it is nearly complete and its first occupants arrived yesterday evening.
Now far be it from me, a mere city girl, to make any suggestions when it comes to moving calves from one location to another, but it struck me how one should NOT do it. Do not transport the little guys in the back seat of your extended cab pick up truck. Even if you do place feed bags on the seat and floor, they have a knack for squirting fecal matter onto the door where handles, knobs, buttons and crevices are ready receptacles for the ooze.
Do not hand carry the little guys over a large distance or climb over the cattle gate with one in your arms. They look small, but they do weigh well over a hundred pounds and frankly, they do not like to be picked up. Upon release from that position, they may kick… and HARD. Placing them into the pickup truck may not be quite as difficult as getting the door closed behind their kicking hooves.
Do not open the doors of your truck upon the arrival at your destination and let said animals exit your vehicle on their own accord. Particularly do not do that if you are not within a very few feet of their new abode. Young calfs previously keep in a shed and never venturing out even a foot into the sunshine and green pastures apparently do not realize there is a huge world beyond their confines and it freaks them out! Without a lead, leash, or at least a firm grasp of their ear, they may bolt like an Olympic runner at the sound of the start gun. This is particularly true if the calf imagines himself a thoroughbred racer.
If you do choose to let them out of the vehicle on their own, be aware they will most likely head the direction of other cattle or the woods, whichever is less convenient to you. The sprint will likely also involve zig zagging and circle running, then a bolt towards the woods, down in the hollow behind the greenhouse, beyond the soy beans awaiting the combine and the six foot high Johnson grass canes on the perimeter of the field and finally into the midst of the blackberry brambles and into chigger and snake country. If you insist on doing this, be sure to choose a cool fall day. Fewer leaves makes sighting the calf a little easier.
A running calf can easily outrun three grown men. Be aware of that fact when you are removing said animal from the transport vehicle. The lead and harness that was placed in the other vehicle for the purpose of controlling the animals, probably will not do much good if you leave it in that vehicle. It is not a decoration. It will also not do much good if after running and trying to catch the calf for ten minutes you have been left out of breath, angry, and shakey. The calf will sense your displeasure and refuse to allow you to put on the harness and lead now. You may have to carry him the last 400 feet while one of your accomplices carries the now-useless rope.
Practice using the harness at least once prior to transporting your calf. The woman standing there calmly petting the other calf (you know, the one that followed her without a problem into the new abode) worked with the calves using the halter and knows how to put it on the animal. She could have instructed you– even though you made fun of her for trying to walk her calves on a leash a couple of weeks ago. Then again, she did not have to chase her calf for ten minutes and need two men to help wrestle her calf into the new quarters. She just spoke softly to the animal, petting and calming him until he was ready to follow her. Then led him, without the need of the halter or lead from the truck to his stall.
Wonder how that happened…
With all due deference to Mike, none of what happened to Pip was his doing, but was that of the experienced cattle man helping him. It was also that man’s truck that was used. No animals were injured in the making of this story. Although, while cleaning the man’s vehicle with Resolve and Pine Sol, Mike may have contemplated veal for dinner. I think the look on Pip’s face in the picture to the right explains how he felt about the change. I swear he’s scowling.