Monday, May 3, 2010

Hey, Hey, Hey! Goodbye!

I often have a soundtrack playing in my head. Most of the time it's whatever I last heard on the radio. This past week, it was that annoying, repetitive song: "Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey, hey, hey! Goodbye!

You may be about ready to call and commit me at this point. But there's really a good reason. I spent three days last week helping sort and move cows and babies to pasture for summer grazing.

"Hey, hey, hey" seems to be a chant that Randy, Jake and I use to get the cattle to move in the right direction. And after hearing that for three days, the whole annoying chorus got firmly rooted in my brain.

And it really is goodbye. Saturday was the last day of the great spring roundup, and we moved the cattle from the pasture just south of our house. During the spring, I always enjoy looking over and seeing the babies as I near home. But with summer approaching, we moved the cow/calf pairs to different pastures, and I no longer get a front-row seat watching the calves frolic and play practically in my own backyard.

As usual, we separate the mamas from the babies before we move them. The plaintive cries from the moms would lead you to believe we are torturing them. The cows just don't realize we do it to protect the babies during the move. The babies are a lot less likely to get hurt if they aren't riding in the trailer with the mamas.

We also use a highly sophisticated method for sorting out mamas who haven't calved.

This is not a good thing by this time of the calving season. I always used to feel sorry for those moms. You know, I'm always doing something that makes me lose my fragile grasp on those Mother of the Year awards. I know how those poor moms feel.

We also count the babies to make sure we get the whole crew along for the ride.

Saturday's move was proceeded by a rodeo, in which Randy and Jake worked a couple of newer baby calves without benefit of a working chute.

The babies get doused with a liquid to help keep the flies away during the summer. It's a messy job. That's why Randy gets to do it.

Here is little R18, who you met last week. He was one of our late arrivals. We keep the babies caught in a pen to wait on the moms arrival. That way, they can find each other more readily.

"Ah, freedom!" this one seems to say as he tries out for the next long-jump meet.

We take part of the herd to a pasture we rent along the Ninnescah River near Sylvia. Here the cattle check out their new home for the summer.

We also take cattle to what we call the Big Pasture. It's been in the family for more than 100 years. A few years ago, this location was recognized as a Farm Bureau Century Farm. Randy's Grandpa and two of his brothers owned the pasture together. Now Randy and his cousin are the owners.

Traditionally, we don't move cattle to the Big Pasture before May 1. Randy says that's because it keeps it fair for everyone. I had never asked that question before this year. I guess you learn something new all the time.

At the Big Pasture, the cattle drink from the Rattlesnake Creek. Last spring was so wet that it overflowed its banks, and it was much later than May Day before we could get the pairs moved to their summertime home.

It doesn't look like a bad place to spend the summer.

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