Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Carrot and the Stick: Farmer Style

The bred heifers don't have much use for carrots. So the old carrot and stick routine made famous on Saturday morning cartoons wouldn't do much to entice them to come to the corral.

But hay and honking? That's a combination they can get behind. Literally.

With a hard freeze coming overnight on Monday, it was time to move our 25 bred heifers out of the Palmer Pasture and back home, where they will dine on their wintertime gourmet fare - hay and silage

Jake led our little farm-style parade with a hay bale poised on the bale mover. As he rounded the corner, he began honking the tractor horn to let the heifers know it was chowtime. It's kind of like dangling boxes of Elroy's Pizza above the heads of a roomful of football players. They naturally gravitate toward their hometown favorite food.

Randy and I followed in the pickup. Our job was to stay out of sight until the heifers made their way through the pasture fence and into the corral. Cattle are curious creatures, so our goal was "Out of sight. Out of mind." I distracted myself by taking photos. Big surprise.
However, as you can see, there's a hill that blocked our view, so our timing was a little off. As we approached from the west, the heifers started to come back through the pasture gate to see what we were doing. Randy initiated his trademark, "Boss, boss," call out of the pickup window, honked his own pickup horn, and drove toward the tractor.
We were all a little surprised it worked. We backed up quickly. Randy hurdled the fence to shut the gate. And I followed at a more sedate rate. My hurdling days are over. Actually, I have never, ever had hurdling days, even when I was a kid.
You can see the hay bale raised on the bale mover on the righthand side of the photo. Sorry: I didn't get a close-up of the tractor and bale.
Randy and I traipsed through the mud and muck to get the heifers to move into the pen by the barn. The goal was no sudden movements that would send them through the fence and back into the pasture. Not that I would have minded a 4-wheeler ride, since it was before the weather system brought the cold north wind. But why complicate the job?

While we were quietly encouraging the young ladies to move in an orderly fashion along the fence line and into the pen by the barn, we discovered that the tractor wasn't doing the only honking on a damp, overcast morning.
This pasture is a neighbor to Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, and geese were voicing their "travel plans" as they took off from the Little Salt Marsh for daytime feedings.

The heifers took a short trailer ride to the corrals, where they are awaiting their first appointment with the OB/GYN (aka the veterinarian) today.
Hopefully, we will discover that these first-time pregnancies are progressing with no complications and that we'll be welcoming 80-pound bundles of joy in late January or early February. 


  1. Kim,
    I love the picture of the dirt road with pretty fall colored leaves!

    Glad moivng the girls went well and hope the preg-check was good.

    1. I wasn't around this AM, but Randy said it turned into a rodeo with a couple of heifers. We had two open. But, we can cross it another task off the fall list!