Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Working Cattle

Yesterday was a chilly spring morning.  The sky was overcast, and the wind had a definite bite to it. I woke up with a case of the butterflies because I knew that our new corral would be taking it's maiden voyage.  The heifers needed to be worked, and yesterday was the big day.

We fixed up the old squeeze chute that we acquired a few months ago and made our working area out of old telephone posts, cattle panels and lumber.  Because we lease this particular pasture, we didn't want to invest the money to make a permanent pipe corral.  What we built can be taken down and moved in a few years, if necessary, but it's built tough enough to last a very long time.

As with any new working facility, there are always a few kinks in the design that must be smoothed out. I've seen enough bad wrecks happen in the squeeze chute to know that caution must be used when working cattle in a new environment.  Like an E.R. nurse who sees the worst case scenario on a regular basis, I've experienced enough trouble to spot the potential for a wreck a mile away. 

After checking and re-checking every detail, it was finally time to see if our design, calculations, and construction would work.  And to my delight, it all went rather smoothly.  The cattle loaded nicely without any major complications, and no-one bawlked in the lead-up.  I was pleased as pie.

The old squeeze chute has it quirks, but I'm so thankful to finally have one on this pasture, that it is well worth the minor annoyances of using an antique dinosaur.  Not having to go through a rodeo every time something needs doctoring or an ear tag is a huge relief.  Our options used to be:
A. A rodeo in the pasture..things always get a little "Western" this way.
B. Load the cow in the trailer and take it to our other hour away.

Now things will be so easy, I won't know what to do with all of the extra time I'll have on my hands.  All of the excitement is gone now.  Ha Ha! Just kidding.  Things never get dull with cattle around.  They are the big variable in the whole operation.  You just never know what they'll do next.

My father-in-law, me and my husband working on a heifer in the chute.

The "gals" are all perky eared and curious as to what the ruckus is all about.  They have no idea what's in store for them.

Our son is getting a lesson in branding.

It looks like I'm waiting for orders.

After everyone was worked through the chute, we loaded them all up and moved them to another pasture. Things are so dry in our part of the world that the fire danger is extreme, and nothing is greening up. We're desperate for rain. We feel incredibly thankful that we have prime irrigated pasture to put our cows out on.  Without it, we would be at the mercy of the weather.  With the help of irrigation, the cows are finally able to taste their first sprigs of green grass for the season.

When we let them out of the trailer, they frolicked through the green grass, and then immediately got busy grazing their prime real estate.  I sighed with contentment after a long days work was finally through.


  1. You think cattle are a big variable... try owning two random buffalo! Now that's a variable. They are generally well behaved and stay on their pasture, but last week they got out due to a low lying fence. Then ended up frolicking in the back 40 for the day before they made their way back and were able to be corralled back into their 'private' area.

    p.s. you can have as much of our rain as you want. I think Grandpa has been stuck with wet weather too. We are just planting our first field this week. Way later than normal.

  2. You think cattle are a variable, try having buffalo... We have two of them and they are normally confined to their 'private' pasture. But they got out the other day and went frolicking in the back 40. Buffalo aren't as easy as cattle to corral around.