Turning The Herd Out Into The Pasture

Finally, finally…. after working our cattle herd for almost 12 hours, the best part of the day had arrived:

It’s always a wonderful thing to watch our herd as they trot away from us, disappear over the hill, and down into the valley. It’s the culmination of not just a day’s work of sorting, shots, loading and hauling to the pasture, but a successful culmination of months of work that started back in early March when the first of the year’s calves hit the ground.

Every new calf was looked over and watched carefully to ensure that it was healthy and nursing from it’s mother. Each healthy new calf and it’s mother were separated from the herd and turned out into a small pasture with other new calves and their moms. Calves with problems, like an inability to nurse, crooked legs, joint ill, scours, or other illness received special attention from Harland for days and sometimes weeks, until they were fit enough to join the herd.

There were losses too:  there was a premature calf back in February, born dead. There were two calves born on a cold snowy March night sometime between 3am and 6am – both froze to death. These losses were heartbreaking, and felt deeply by us.

One morning, Harland found a cow, lying flat out on the ground, close to death. He called the vet who came out and treated her for grass tetany, a calcium deficiency also known as milk fever. Fortunately, she was caught just in time and after a about a week was healthy again.

This year we had three sets of twins, a record for us, but not an enviable one. Twins are not necessarily a good thing. Most cows can’t mother two calves well, so we end up pulling one of the calves from her and letting her raise the other. Fortunately, we were able to foster two of the twins to the cows who had lost their calves. The third twin didn’t have a cow available to foster to, so we kept her as a bottle calf.

One by one, as each calf was born, days and weeks flashed by in a blur of cows bawling to newborn calves, prepared milk bottles given to weak calves, calf splints for crooked legs, worry-filled snowy days, rainy muddy days, new spring grass, and expressions of wonder on little calves’ faces as they looked at the world for the first time.

Not lost in the shuffle was our perennial wonder about miraculous births, perfectly formed little calves, and first-time moms who took to mothering their little ones like they’d done it a hundred times before.

So it’s with a great feeling of accomplishment as we watch the herd run away from us into the lush green world where they will live for the summer. Harland will check on them once a week, but otherwise they’ll take care of themselves. The calves will grow and grow, increasing their weight 4-5 fold before fall comes. The cows will become pregnant again soon, with calves they’ll carry within them until they birth next March, and the annual cycle starts all over again.

Smile Harland, we’re finally done for the day.

Spring Cattle Move (1)

Harland needs to work on his selfie smile.

xxoxooxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

13 comments to Turning The Herd Out Into The Pasture

  • Carol

    I have learned so much from you guys! I love your tales of life in Kansas, Some days are better than others, but your loving hearts rescue cattle, kittens and everything in between. How are Kitty and Mr Muffin? Are you using the patio? Thanks for your posts Suzanne, I love hearing from you, always makes me smile!

    • Suzanne

      Mr Muffin is now bigger than Kitty. They don’t play as much as they used to because he’s a little too rough for her now, she being the delicate queen she is, but she does still have it in her to body slam him to the floor and teach him who’s boss. 🙂 We are using the patio, but these days with all the rain we’ve been getting, our sitting outside is infrequent.

      Thanks Carol!

  • Stella

    So nice to see you smile after all the hard work!

  • Linda

    I was born in Kansas and have never lived anywhere but Kansas, but always in the city. I have learned more about rural Kansas life from you than anywhere else. I love your detailed, heartfelt stories about life on your farm. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Marilyn

    You guys are so cute!!

  • JMart

    Oh, goodness the forced smile!! My grandson, age 18, does this. I all it the grimace AND I thought he might out grow it. Now thinking, maybe not!! Sigh.

  • Right on and may the summer be calm and trouble-free for the calves, their mamas and you and Harland too. What’s next on the never-ending list of Farm Chores ?~! I know that there isn’t a week off in the plans !~!

    • Suzanne

      Almost finished planting the soybeans, will be starting haymaking soon, after that the wheat harvest. And so it goes…always something to do. Thanks Lynda!

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