Friday, July 3, 2009


It's been a little noisy and hectic on the farm this week. Actually, that's a horrible understatement; it's been chaotic and deafening on the farm this week.

Tuesday morning Baby Daddy #2 (the second visiting bull), Umberto of Hem-Loch, was delivered by two breeders I hadn't met. Umberto has settled in nicely, although, as his owner told me (and I can attest), he's young and focused on doing his job so isn't interested in being combed or handled. I learned from others and from our experience in the spring with Tabor that bulls should be considered dangerous and I don't like to be near them on my own. (Sidenote: one of the breeders seems very interested in buying T-Bone as a bull for his own herd, so we're discussing price and timing. Wow.)

Well, that evening I decided to proceed as planned with separating the calves and locking them by themselves in the front pasture so they couldn't nurse from their mothers. Annabel decided to escape twice over the next couple hours, after which time I discovered the hotwire fence wasn't hot. It had been working a couple of days before, although anything can cause a short, usually a branch or thick grass laying on a wire. I cruised the perimeter of the front pasture and didn't see anything, and against my better judgment walked about 1/3 of the fence of the "big" pasture while keeping one wary, nervous eye on the bull. He was watching me too intently, so I hightailed it back to the safety of the yard and locked the gate behind me. With the fence dead and a valuable show bull on my property, and with no psychological deterrent to prevent escape of him or the calves, I didn't sleep well that night.

The next morning I fiddled for two hours with the fence, including hooking up two more ground rods. No change. I gave myself some time to cool down and mellow out over iced tea, then finally gathered my courage and, finding a moment everyone but Bridgit napping in the paddock, I scurried past, locked both gates to confine everyone, and walked the entire fenceline. I found the culprit: the neighbor's barbed wire had twisted around one of our hotwires. As soon as I untangled it and received a nice shock from our fence, I knew I was back in business.

The rest of the day found me repeatedly fetching Annabel and leading her back into the front pasture where her brother bellowed alone; she escaped nine times (!) by diving between two hotwires. After the last time I took the advice of someone I met on a chat board, led her to the fence and touched her nose on it. She's stayed put ever since.

It's now been 17 full hours of both calves being separated from their mothers, and the noise is impressive. The cows want their babies, and I'm sure their full udders are uncomfortable. The calves want their mothers in the worst way. T-Bone is amazingly loud; Annabel is loud but really sounds more angry. The calves are bellowing, the cows are bellowing...the only quiet one is the bull, who's just wandering around, grazing and napping.

This noise will hopefully only last another day or two, by which time the cows and calves will realize this is a permanent situation, no one is injured, and life will carry on. I hope the neighbors don't hate us too much by the time it's over with!

T-Bone mid-bellow, 6:30 a.m.

Bridgit and Annabel sharing a moment of comfort through the hotwire fence.


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