Lush green grass. Cows love it and they must think if it's fenced off that it's better than what they have! So I should have been warned about this propensity they have for making the most of any and every opportunity to reach said greener grass!
My spouse was out of a town at a conference about a week ago and had gotten a message from one of our neighbors that a couple of the calves were out so I went out after work to check. I counted multiple times and kept coming up with the correct number of cows and the correct number of calves! I decided to go ahead with feeding.
The cows have figured out that when the pickup pulls in the pasture, they are probably going to get "cake" (ranch cubes). They will crowd the gate, run after the pickup and almost knock me over trying to get to this treat. So on this day - there are 31 cows and 29 calves crowded around the gate as I pull up. I have the bags of cake on the tailgate of the pickup and try to get the gate open, shoo the cows back, jump back in the pickup and drive through the gate, jump out and close the gate before any cows or calves can get out. Most days they just follow the pickup but NOOOOO - not this day. 3 of the cows see the lush, green , ungrazed grass and they are out the gate! I shake the bags of cake to try to get their attention but they are having none of it, so I go ahead and drive out a ways so the rest of the flink (did you know that is what a group of 12 or more cows is called?) will follow me, which they do. I spread 2 bags for them to start on and they go after it and ignore me as I drive out of the pasture and try to gather these 3 cows back in with the rest. I did try to "herd" them - that did not work. I used the bag of cake left to entice them - that didn't work. I tried walking them back to the pasture but I could not leave the gate open or the rest of the cows would follow suit and all of them would be out! I even threw some pieces of the cake at them to try to "leave a trail of breadcrumbs for them to follow" but that didn't work. I even screamed at them and finally used my cell phone to call my spouse - and screamed "I AM SICK OF THESE STUPID COWS!!!! at the top of my lungs in a message on his cell phone. I still cannot get their attention - that grass must have had sugar, drugs, or something completely addictive as they were not leaving it for anything. I finally opened the gate into an adjoining pasture to try to entice them in with cake one more time. This pasture also has not been grazed for a while so it also has nice, lush, green grass. In the meantime, I have talked to my spouse on the phone a couple of times - and can I just say I was less than polite! Actually I should say I was downright hateful, mean, and ended with "Well I hope YOU have a great evevning!!!" (The sarcasm was not dripping from my mouth - it was a waterfall!)
I did manage to entice the cows into this second pasture and managed to get the rest of the cows and calves in as well, shut the gate and was just about ready to head out when I had another thought ... I have pictures of feral hogs that have been in this pasture a couple of different times. Yep - fences might be an issue since we have not had the cows in there for a while, I decide to walk the fence to be sure everything is okay. Of course it's not okay! It could not possibly be that easy. Fence is down across a small wash area where said hogs have come through - with a hole big enough that certainly any of the calves could walk through and actually probably the cows too. Oh and it is almost 7:30 so it is pretty dim by this time too. I call my spouse again - in tears for the umpteenth time - and ask how the heck am I supposed to fix this and keep the cows in? He has a couple of suggestions. We have a couple of "bull panels" in the barn and I think one of them would fit across the gap and could hold, if I can just figure out how to get it out there and then get it wired. I drag it out of the barn (because I can't figure out how to get it in the pickup as it's too long and I am sick of the whole venture at this point), across the pasture and do remember to grab tools before I leave the barn as well. By this time it is close to 8 o'clock and almost dark; which would be the time the hogs would be more likely to be coming out and I have a pair of pliers and nothing else to defend myself should they decide I make a good target. No hogs - I do manage to get the panel up but cannot get the barb wire cut to use to wire the panel to the remaining fence. One more phone call to my spouse as to how to cut the barb wire or what to do to get this thing attached so the hogs can't tear it down and the cows/calves can't get out! Finally - I actually do manage to get it repaired, wired, cows are in, and seem content - I'm done.
Have to apologize to my spouse as I head home but he is really sweet and understanding about the frustration and lack of knowledge on my part. The weekend is to be spent at TSCRA Annual convention in Fort Worth which was a nice break. I also got some advice from the person I look up to as a woman trying to learn this business. Mary Lou Bradley Henderson is the woman I look up to the most - she has been involved in ranching her entire life - and she has knowledge, experience, and wisdom. We talked for a short time while at the convention and she had some great insights for me. She told me - "Meltdowns are okay. We all have them! Get your own set of tools that fit your hands and you can work with, get a good sorting stick to use with the cows and the bulls, and call me anytime!" She will probably never know how very much those words were needed last weekend but they were a balm to my soul. As I was screaming out loud at the cows, the sky, my spouse, and this choice in general - one thing kept coming to my mind - What would Mary Lou do? She would get out there, do what needed to be done, and get on with life. So that's my new mantra for now. Thanks Mary Lou! You are definitely my inspiration to keep going on this journey.