We had a little more drama on the farm today than we expected. See, a few weeks back we had the vet out finally to pregnancy check Sheila and Roxanne, and were very stunned and disappointed to find they were both open, or not pregnant. Sheila wasn't a big surprise. It was the second time in a row she'd missed. Roxanne, though, should have been pregnant. The best we can figure is she slipped her calf. We did move her a lot, straight from being with the bulls up north to our place for a week or two, and then over to the leased pasture, where she got acquainted with Sheila, Cowboy and Clyde, who were already there.
Now, since Roxy isn't bred, Sheila's had a stay of execution. There's no sense trying to breed one back without giving Sheila one last shot, too, right?
So, today, we moved the big girls home from the summer pasture, leaving Xoe, Clyde and Cowboy behind for another 45 days or so. Then, we headed south and picked up Eiger, a bull from Rustler's Roost Ranch, who happened to be finishing up a "job" in Kelso. Eiger's a smallish, curly-headed brindle guy who just turned two this month, and he was a perfect gentleman, loading into the trailer like it was an everyday thing. Paul chuckled to see Eiger's horn poking out through the side of the trailer all the way down the freeway.
The drama started when we pulled into the pasture: Sheila started bellowing, almost like a bull. She was throwing a royal fit! Eiger came out and stopped, standing sideways to her, trying to look big, head slightly down, one front foot slightly forward to make his shoulders look bigger. She did a lot of headshaking and (practically) screaming at him before she started pawing the ground and throwing dirt everywhere. At one point she even threw herself down on her front knees and rubbed her neck in the dirt. She was really, really obnoxious. All the while, Eiger stood silently, always sideways to her.
It seemed like all was well despite Sheila's fit-throwing (Roxanne, by the way, was perfectly mellow), but as Paul drove the truck and trailer out to the front gate, a great ruckus ensued, and I turned to find Sheila throwing her best kung fu moves at Eiger. They went round and round until, oops, suddenly Eiger was next to the fence...and he turned and jumped through it, and ended up in our next door neighbor's unfenced pasture!
I yelled for Paul to stop. Sheila continued to bellow but Eiger just stood there, quiet and bleeding a bit from the nose, on the other side of the fence. Paul climbed through with a little grain and got a halter on him while I knocked on the neighbor's next door and asked permission to walk a little bull down his driveway! I'm sure we were a sight, although I don't think anyone saw us...me leading the way, with Paul leading Eiger behind him. What a fortunate thing...we didn't even know whether Eiger was halter trained, let alone leadable. Normally, this isn't something you need to worry about when a bull is visiting; just bring 'em in and let them do their work. Eiger led like a dream, gentle and calm, his light hooves clopping down the neighbor's gravel drive, down the paved road a bit, and back up our gravel drive, and then all the way through the north pasture before Paul let him loose. (Meanwhile, I locked Sheila and Roxanne in the paddock. As soon as she saw Eiger again, Sheila shouted her displeasure.)
We left the girls locked in the paddock while we repaired the fence and cleared the fenceline of weeds and twigs. I plugged in the hotwire fence and Paul let the girls out with Eiger, carrying a nice bale of hay into the middle of the main pasture as a diversion. It helped that the steers who live kitty-corner from us came to their corner for a little bovine meet-and-greet.
We're not sure why Sheila threw such a fit. Never in the 3+ years we've owned her have we ever seen behavior like that and it was, frankly, unbecoming a lady...especially one meeting a new suitor! I did notice a nice long mucus string from her lady-parts, so I think she's either coming into or out of heat. Perhaps she was annoyed with the timing. Who knows. So long as she plays nice and lets Eiger at least breed Roxanne, we're good. Hopefully she'll breed back, too, but we're certainly not going to hold our breath.
The little ones, Xoe, Clyde and Cowboy (a.k.a. Mama's Boy, who, we heard it reported, bellowed after his momma Sheila for a while after she left today) will stay behind on the leased pasture until at least 45 days from tomorrow, giving Eiger enough time to be in with Roxanne and Sheila for two heats. Then, once we bring the little ones home, we'll put Eiger in with Xoe to breed her for the first time. She'll be just shy of two years old.
Meanwhile, I hope that's all the drama we'll have around here for a while. Today was a bit much, and Paul and I are both worn out now!