Friday, April 4, 2014

Morning Drive Time

The big-town radio stations talk about morning drive time. They'll play a mix of music to get commuters from suburbia to their downtown office jobs. It's where the stations sell their best advertising space, since it's when the drivers are held captive by bumper-to-bumper traffic. Or so I've been told.

I don't know about that kind of morning drive time. I do know about another kind of drive time. It was what Randy, Jake and I accomplished on an overcast, misty, chilly morning this week as we "drove" mama cows and their babies from the Peace Creek pasture to the corrals a half mile away. It was time for the babies' well-child checks (more on that later). Just like we took our own children to the doctor for vaccinations and care, the baby calves have their own appointment to keep them healthy and growing.

The photo below isn't that great a photo with the fence slicing Randy's face in two. But I loved the cow's expression of disdain as she looked at the 4-wheeler.  Did she remember that she was going to have a workout as she and her friends were about to go on a morning stroll? (Maybe it's how my face looks as I contemplate another session on the treadmill.)
Many times, I drive the pickup and use it to block at the road. But this time, Jake had the pickup and I used the second 4-wheeler. Consequently, my "drive time" wasn't on the radio. Rather, the tune was the bellowing of cows and calves.

Randy drove his 4-wheeler into the pasture to check for cows and calves. It was my job to get them to turn into the gate so they could join their compatriots in the lot. Driving cattle is a little like working with junior high girls. It's easier to get them to do what you want them to do if they are among friends.
Once we had them all in the lot, we started working them toward the gate at the road, herding them with the 4-wheelers.
Since both the 4-wheeler and the camera button are operated with the right hand, I didn't get a lot of photos during the process. The photo below is from another round-up, when my job was blocking the road so that the cattle would turn south.
In a perfect world, the mamas would just follow the dirt road to the corrals. But the green wheat provides too much temptation. So, we took a detour through the wheat fields, using our "hey, hey, hey" and close proximity to a 4-wheeler to move them along as they stopped for a nibble.
Here's the pickup operator's perspective from another round-up as the 4-wheelers turn the cattle into the drive at Jake's house toward the corrals.
We spent the next couple of hours working the baby calves. Randy gave them ear tags and notches. He vaccinated them with a couple of shots and turned the bull calves into steers.

Then it was time for the reverse of the early morning's drive time. This time, we wanted them back in their pasture. But a doctor's appointment can be tiring for babies, like little No. 472, who was the youngest of group.
So, instead of making them walk the half mile back to the pasture, we loaded them in the trailer. (Jake even carried this little one into the trailer. Now that is service.)
Their mamas had to hoof it on their own four feet. With their babies in the trailer, most of them didn't need much encouragement to follow along and leave the green wheat behind.
We didn't even need to have anyone blocking the road to the north. They followed the trailer over the wooden bridge and into the pasture.
Randy and I encouraged the ones who were lagging behind.
Then the morning drive time tune shifted to "Anticipation" as Jake and Randy prepared to open the trailer. "Anticipation. Anticipation is making me wait."
Every time we return babies to their mamas, I mentally sing "Reunited and it feels so good." Really.
This mama was obviously singing the blues as she searched for her calf.
Some of the babies didn't seem nearly as anxious to reunite. I guess they weren't hungry yet.
Others found their way back to each other more quickly.
You sometimes need a little sustenance after a strenuous morning drive time!

I'm linked to the Country Fair Blog Hop hosted by Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom, Dirt Road Charm and High Heels and Shot Gun Shells. Click on the links to check out their blogs. 


  1. Love these kind of morning drives! :)
    I have a few questions.
    How old are your calves when you start to vaccinate them?
    You mention vaccinate to turn the bull calves to steers. Do you castrate or band? Or is there a vaccine for turning a bull to a steer?

    1. No, maybe I didn't write it clearly enough. I'll have a post on the whole process soon. However, we castrate the bull calves. These babies were born in February and March (a few stragglers in April. I think we have 7 calves left to go.) We are giving them the following: Ultrabac 7, an immunization to prevent blackleg, and Bovi-Shield Gold 5, which prevents viral diseases in cattle. We also do a Ralgrow implant. Sorry for the confusion, and thanks for asking so that I could clarify.

  2. By the way - Love your header photo.

    1. Thanks! I took it a few years ago, but the tree is blooming right now, too.

    2. Thank you Kim.
      We will start branding, vaccinating and dehorning, castrating and pouring the cows in a few weeks. We usually wait until the calves are 30 days at least and there is plenty of grass! Might be a little later this year. We like to get all the cattle and calves done before we turn bulls out on April 23. The bulls can be such a pain when you,re trying to pair out!

  3. I love your morning drive comparison... that was perfect.

    I think my favorite picture is with the wooden slats over the road.. I am assuming that's a bridge? You don't see bridges like that here in Indiana. Thank you for sharing! We do not have cattle right now but I'd like to. For now, I like to live vicariously through others :)

    1. Yes, it's a bridge over Peace Creek. Thanks for taking time to comment. Glad I could help fill the cattle craving through our adventures!