Okay, so a real rancher would say they were sorting cows, not dancing with them. And in all reality, I was helping sort cows, but it kinda felt like a really weird dance. Somewhere, God was laughing his patootie off, and every rancher up in Heaven was shaking their heads in disgrace.
Last Friday, my grandparents and I needed to sort out some cows in the spring herd. We were wanting to move the herd to fresh pasture so they could gorge themselves on grass instead of feeding several bales of hay every morning. However, there are still some cows we are waiting on to calve. Plus a big ol' bull has been in with them, and we did want to get him out as well. Not to mention we had a few cows in there that had lost calves or for some reason didn't do their duty and get pregnant. So, our goal was move all the cows with calves out to pasture, and keep the rest near the house until calving is complete.
We slowly moved the spring herd out of their current pasture. The cows themselves are pretty easy to move. Their calves however are completely clueless. Slowly we got them all into a smaller pen. Papa D would be the gate man, as he couldn't move fast enough to block the hole, or move through the cows to sort them out one by one. K took the job of diving into the herd to sort out our short list of cows to keep near the house. I got the job of blocking the hole.
It was me against 50 or so cows and their clueless calves. Each cow probably weighs around 2000lbs. And one cow is meaner than all get out when it comes to her calf - we can't tag her calves because she doesn't let anyone near them. I fear her like I fear heights. My biggest fear was her stupid calf getting past me and her coming after me. Seriously folks, she's a "mad cow".
So, I'm standing in there, blocking the hole with one whip. I'm only supposed to let cows on our short list through. Easier said than done. Five minutes in I took a freaking nose dive. Actually it was a knee dive because that's what I landed on. Nothing suctioned me in this time, but it was really chunky ground and not easy to move around in. After about an hour though, I had a made smooth ground. After my fall, K got Papa D's whip as he didn't need it, so I could easily cover both sides of me. Give me more presence, if you will.
I felt like I was doing line drills in volleyball - side to side, back and forth. Diving this way and that way to keep a cow from crossing my barrier. Or from trying to come back after we'd sorted her. I had to stay on my toes and keep my feet or legs moving if I was to beat a cow to the fence line to keep her back. It was an odd little dance I was doing.
You might wonder why we didn't use a chute or something. The reason being is there were tiny calves involved. While this version of sorting is a pain in the rear, it's a little less stressful than the chute and less chance that calves will get trampled in the process.
Once the cows were sorted, we put the short list back in their original pen. The main part of the herd, we had them follow the feed truck down the lane. Easiest way to move cows - put food in front of them. Their four-chambered stomach does the walking. K and I followed trying to keep the calves on the right path and not getting on the wrong side of the electric fence.
By the end of the day, my hips were sore from dancing with the cows. I will say that it is slightly unnerving being the sole blockage to 50 or so 2000lb animals. I mean, they could easily over-take me if they wanted to.
I'm just lucky Miss Mad Cow's calf didn't cross the line, otherwise . . . . I wouldn't be blogging.