Friday, October 3, 2008

Cows and Calves

We don't have cattle anymore, we didn't have the greatest luck with raising calves though we have done it most of our lives. We lost our favorite cow and it was hard on both of us, so we sold all of our other cows. I do miss calving and I really miss going to check on the cows, even in the middle of a cold winter night.

I got to do a little calf handling yesterday morning and I enjoyed it. We have always helped our neighbor and close friend with his small cattle operation. He has a few black Angus cows and a gorgeous bull, he takes his calves to the Springville Feeder Auction that is just a few miles away.

We normally load and haul his calves for him, but someone else had volunteered to do it yesterday, which was perfect because my DH had to work, he is back to working six days a week again.

The person who was going to haul them came early yesterday morning and realized that there was just no way that he could do it. Our neighbor's farm is mostly hillside and very steep, getting a trailer to his holding pen usually takes a tractor but since we haven't had rain for weeks, it could be done with a 4x4 truck. The problem is that it is a small area and there is not any room for mistakes.

I was sleeping soundly and deeply when the phone rang. I didn't try to answer it because my back has to adjust slowly to achieving vertical status. I could hear the message that was left on the answering machine and recognized the voice. I was a little annoyed about the timing but I thought that it was nice that the neighbor was coming to haul off our trash. I got up, got dressed and gathered all of the trash and was just walking out the door with it when he arrived. I tried to hand it to him but he didn't seem anxious to take it.

He explained his problem to me and I groggily comprehended that he had said that he was coming to get the trailer and not the trash. So I sat the trash down without explaining it to him. As my bad luck would have it, our new shiny black Ford diesel 4x4 truck had the trailer hooked to it and it was pulled right up to the barn/house. It would have to be backed up and turned around. I am not a great trailer backer and my neighbor may be worse.

I got the keys, started the truck and he walked up to the window and asked me if I would do it with our truck instead of having to unhook it to do it with his truck. I told him that I would try if he would fix me a cup of coffee before we started. So I went back into my house, brushed my teeth, wiped the sleep from my eyes, turned the truck and trailer around and headed for their house. His wife had my coffee ready when I arrived.

I got the truck and trailer up the hill to the pen. I somehow managed to back right into perfect position on my second attempt. Everything went like clockwork, I worked the trailer door, my neighbor was in the pen pushing the calves from behind and his wife was reinforcing the gate on the other side of the trailer, so that the calves wouldn't see a hole to go through.

I remember when this neighbor first got cows and my Husband started helping him, it was hard to get across to him that he needed to be quiet and calm when working with cattle, he is a little excitable. Yesterday he was telling his wife that she needed to be completely quiet. To which I added, that she shouldn't move unless something tried to push through her gate. Then he gave her a club, so, I guess he finally gets it.

The calves loaded fairly easy and then I had to turn the thing around again to get it out of there. This is where I got nervous, it had to be done in inches because of the limited space. We were going down a steep and rough hill with the trailer loaded this time and those calves each weighed around 500 lbs.

I didn't hit the gate at the right angle and couldn't get the trailer past the gate post, there was no way to back up and try again, it was just too steep and my load was too heavy. I suggested that he might be able to pull me backwards with his tractor but his wife came up with a better solution. She told me to tell him to cut the gate post. But she also told me that it would have to be my idea or he wouldn't go for it. So I suggested it to him and he went for the chainsaw.

The real problem came when my DH got home and heard what happened. He was upset to say the least. He said that he would never have taken the new truck up there. He would have used the neighbor's tractor, because he wouldn't even take our tractor up there. I asked him finally if I would ever hear the end of it and he told me, no.

I am sure in 10 years when the truck develops some mechanical problem or he ever gets a flat tire, it will be my fault. But I am used to it, everything is always my fault anyways.
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