May morning after rain

May morning after rain

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Great Cattle Drive

Hop onto your horse and come along for the Great Cattle Drive.

Oh, wait. We don't have horses on the County Line. You'll have to hop onto your Japanese quarterhorse instead, as Randy calls the 4-wheeler.

This time of year brings more than blooming flowers, budding trees and warmer temperatures. It also involves the annual ritual of working baby calves here on the County Line.

Most of our babies are born during the last week of January, February and March. Before we move the babies and mamas to pasture in a month or so, we "work" the baby calves.

This involves castrating the boys, giving all of them growth implants, vaccinating them for black leg and adding ear tags for identification.

To accomplish this, we have to separate the babies and the mamas while the babies have their "doctor's appointment." Since we have cow-calf pairs at multiple locations, it usually takes several days to get the job done.

The mamas are not wild about this turn of events. They - like most human moms - are pretty protective of their babies. They protest quite loudly when their babies are sorted and escorted to a different pen. The bellows are deafening. They mill around the fence. They pace. They jostle each other to see if they can get a closer view of their little one.

And as the babies depart in a trailer, maybe they feel a little like I did when I watched my babies climb the steps of the school bus to ride toward kindergarten. I may not have bellowed as the dust settled and the bus' taillights disappeared down the road. But I did feel like a part of me was leaving.

The babies do their share of bawling, but they aren't at the audio level of a jet aircraft taking off like their moms. When I came back from accompanying at school, I could hear the moms, who were 200 yards away, from inside the house.

But all's well that ends well. The babies and moms are reunited after the work is done.

I'm always amazed by the scene in the pasture when the trailer arrives. The moms come running. They continue their vocal calls to their young. They sniff the little ones. And, one by one, they figure out who belongs to whom.

In all the confusion, they recognize each other. It's just another miracle on the County Line.

1 comment:

  1. I love the last picture! That mama is telling you all about it!!!