A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
A picture’s worth a thousand words . . .
I wrote before of cows getting loose, run ins with law enforcement, corralling them, cajoling them and getting them back to where they belonged. The emphasis was irritation, interruption, and the frustrating need for better fencing.
Better fencing has happened. In one of the scenarios above we met a neighbour who helped us. My husband remarked on the man’s friendly three legged dog. They talked cows and the farmer mentioned he had a bull coming shortly to stay for a spell. We said thank you and gave him some eggs and a chicken.
Last week it came to our attention that Anabelle is again in heat, despite having magic potion delivered by the nice man in the white truck on three different occasions.
What would you do if you were us and the potion fails this time? I asked.
Get a bull, he said.
We’re not set up for housing a bull, but Anabelle’s condition jiggled up the memory of the nice new neighbour. My husband called and the bull was still there. Transport and accommodations were arranged. We did our best to communicate to Anabelle our approval of this new young man and our extreme best wishes that she find him an acceptable sire for next year’s calf.
Hopefully she’ll be home soon. The fields don’t seem quite right without her. Buster’s been wandering the pastures mooing soulfully. On and on and on.
Who knows if this time will be the ticket or not, but the irony makes me laugh. We only met the farmer who’s helping us because Buster got a taste for a good wander and convinced his mother to join him. If broken fences and crazy cows equal a nice little Hereford/Charolais calf next summer, I’ll have to reassess more illogical reasons for hope and gratitude.
I really believe that everything we need to know and learn is right in front of us. That kids, cows, and seasons sit hidden in plain sight; lessons laid out for the taking. When I don’t get it, I try to turn the paper sideways and upside down. Although for Anabelle, I may have to throw the book across the room.
A few months ago, Rick from the breeding company came. We requested Black Angus and then chose from one of two test sire vials. Later, Anabelle made it clear that Rick should come again. We sighed for the trial and paid for another vial.
We didn’t see any signs of insanity in the weeks that followed so figured we were home free. Until this weekend when Anabelle spent a lot of time exploring her inner crazy, stomping around, attempting to mount my husband, mount Buster, and yelling for a husband of her own to visit the farm. We gritted our teeth, called Rick, and chose the other sire vial. The one named, “Camero.” I wasn’t wild about a car in the bloodlines, but at stage reproduction critical, car cows are better than no cows.
Yesterday, Girl two was home sick. At 10:30 in the morning a man came to the door. Ya got a black cow an a white cow? he asked. People kind enough to find your house on their own way home (so that nobody gets hurt when your cow meanders down the road) deserve a medal. Although I declined his offer to help, for that too, he deserves a reward.
Six year olds don’t come programmed to be alone for an hour, so Girl two had to come along. I figured that I’d done my part to keep her home to rest, there wasn’t a lot I could do about God dragging her outside to tramp around the fields in pajamas. When we found them Anabelle was ambling beside the road. Getting her back in a field was easy. After that it got energetic.
I used a very wide container of grain to coax, but the cows were too jumpy for Girl two to be beside me. I had her trail behind the cows, which had me calling the cows, getting them to follow, jogging, and hollering for Girl two to follow faster so she didn’t lose us in the paths through the brush. Once we got to the woods, the trick was to find a place to get them back over the fence and onto our property. An hour and a lot of lively running around later, Anabelle and Buster were in the barn and Girl two (who had gone AWOL in the midst of the last bit of Buster chasing) was found changed out of pajamas on the front lawn swinging.
We gave up and bought more electric fence. Anabelle and Buster are in the barn until we finish installing it. There is a wise something in it all, I’m sure, I just don’t know what it is yet.
Recently, Buster wins top spot on this list. He has rapidly developed a taste for whatever’s on the other side of the fence. We don’t have enough money to fix all the fences to perfection. When the pigs started doing this we ended up fixing the fence problem by fixing the pigs. Is there a way to explain to Buster, that that’s why we’re pigless despite our deep and abiding appreciation for pork?
After escaping to the skeet shooting neighbor, Buster kept making his way to our front lawn. Sometimes in the day, sometimes at 10:00 at night. With that escape route was found and fixed, Buster found another. Thursday last week we were just finishing dinner (hoping to leave en masse for choir practice in a few minutes) when a man in a pick-up truck came up the driveway. Turns out Buster, with mother dearest in tow, had gotten out past the skeet shooter and onto the road. Everybody but us seemed to have known about it. The O.P.P. (for the non-Canadians, that would be the Ontario Provincial Police) came. Apparently, our bovines made it a good chase until finally, they were corralled into a nearby pasture with some other cows.
We made minimal attempts to talk Anabelle into coming back that evening, but she was pretty riled up by then. The idea of kids, cars, roads, and half crazed cows against the setting sun seemed more crazy than romantic.
The girls and I took off for choir. My husband made friends with the man who owned the pasture. The boys made friends with his one eyed, three legged dog.
Two days later, new friend (and trailer owner) delivered Anabelle and Buster to the barn, where we left them for a few days to mull over their bad behaviour. After that it was a collar for Buster and we chained him to a tree. Many hours of work on the fence later, they’re both wandering free in the fields again. The only one not wandering free is me, who startles and goes to set eyes on them so I know they haven’t gotten out yet.
I’m working on a letter to Buster.
Pick-up truck man offered to buy you straight up for $1500. Feeding you over the winter is worth it as long as we don’t have to sink money into fences. It was before your time, but ask the sheep – we used to have pigs.
Just a little something to think about.
Chasing cows is similar to chasing dreams. I learned this on Monday. My husband had noticed the cows missing. After a bit of searching, we found our two bovines settled in on a neighbor’s property (newly set up for skeet shooting). Finding them was the easy part. Despite the black, “no trespassing,” signs, we got a good sense of the neighbor’s property (who knew he had such nice interconnected paths mowed through his brush and trees?). But through all that brush and trees we weren’t quite sure precisely which way to head the animals because we didn’t know where they’d broken through the fence. My idea that we’d just get them moving and they would lead us to the spot of their escape was, as my kids would say, an epic failure.
Anabelle and son Buster were content to wander up and down the fence line crashing through as many trees and bushes as we pleased and not the least bit interested in showing us where a break in the fence might be. So it took an, “us,” (my husband and I) for an hour chasing cows. Of course chasing cows makes it seem like they were running, which they never did for more than thirty feet, and only when they saw a chance to move in the wrong direction. The rest of the time it was pushing cows, prodding cows, and cajoling cows. The dog was of no use. She would get them moving but then make them crazy going too close. Buster, especially, doesn’t take to having her at his heels.
We finally got them through by guessing that they leapt the fence (due to the slope of the land it’s easier to do going off the property than back on) so we lowered a section and lured them back. Then I went inside and my husband fixed the fence.
I had been annoyed, it is true, to find my afternoon interrupted by lost cows and by forcible teamwork with a man who failed to properly appreciate the magnitude of grievance the interruption caused me, not to mention the good sense in my ideas. Yet somehow I went back to the house encouraged. About writing of all things.
Hopes, dreams, editors, kids and cows . . . it’s all about the same thing. A little confusing, a lot of work, but you figure it out the best you can, consulting the guy beside you as you go. . . and eventually, you find the low spot in the fence.
Scooter with Anabelle. Laughter with sorrow. Sometimes odd things go together.
We got Scooter the week we moved to County Road 21 four years ago. Everybody got along with Scooter. Before Anabelle came and befriended him, Scooter slept with the pigs. I discovered this one morning out checking on the pigs after a particularly cold night. I shoved at their combined black masses (or minus the M, as you wish) and they grunted to their feet. Younger ones first, and then at last our amazing sow, Oregano. Tucked up in the corner, having recently been kept warm by a few hundred pounds of pig was Scooter.
Scooter napped in cribs of hay, burying himself a foot or so down into the warmness, but his favourite spot, summer or winter, was outside in the fields, sunning himself on Anabelle’s back. Scooter died this weekend. Boy one found him curled up in the sheep’s hay. It was a sad surprise for everyone. We worried about Boy two, Scooter’s most ardent admirer. He was teary, but ok.
The husband and I wondered quietly what to do with a dead cat while winter is very much still with us. Cremation was the only viable choice but I worried whether or not the kids could handle the idea. My first attempt at discussion led to an unexpected sidetrack.
So, I said, Dad and I have been talking about what to do with Scooter.
Oh, we already have it figured out, said Boy one.
Yeah, said Boy two.
Either we can bury Scooter in the pasture outside Anabelle’s stall, said Boy one.
Or, we have another idea, said Boy two, eye’s still glistening.
We can’t really bury Scooter outside Anabelle’s stall, I said. (Or anywhere, I didn’t add) The ground is too frozen. Even digging three inches would take a long time.
That’s ok, said Boy one.
Yeah, said Boy two. We like the other idea better.
So what’s your other plan?
We want to bury Scooter above Anabelle’s stall.
I think I’m missing something. How would we “bury” Scooter in the air over Anabelle’s stall?
Ok, we wouldn’t “bury” her. I don’t know what word you use, said Boy one.
We’re going to make him a casket, said Boy two surprised that I am not getting it.
So you want to put Scooter in a casket and hang the casket from the ceiling of the barn over top of Anabelle’s stall?
Exactly, says Boy one, relieved that I finally get it.
Isn’t it just perfect? says Boy two.
Epilogue: I suggested gently, that although the idea was lovely, the idea of a decaying feline dangling above her and her new calf, might not be well received by Anabelle. Boys had their doubts that I knew what I was talking about, but decided plan B was ok because we could put ashes near Anabelle’s stall.
Scooter. Barn cat. Friend of all creatures. R.I.P. We shall continue to chase the mad black cat off the property in your honor.
Buster is rambunctious. This wanna be farmer is wondering if he is destined to be veal. I am told that 1200lb beef cow is his destiny. A scary thought at the moment.
After some days inside, I thought it was time to get outdoors yesterday, at least while I cleaned up the stall. Anabelle was ready. Out the door and thirty feet away without looking back. She was revelling in space and air and sunshine when Buster’s soft little moan called. (Roughly translated . . . mom, where are you? The door is open. What do I do? I don’t want to do it by myself.)
This was very sneaky. Buster didn’t mean much of it, but that is what he said.
Anabelle mooed softly. Buster moaned back and Anabelle was there. Sniffing, rubbing, talking. Stuttering steps.
Three pregnant sheep and a nervous Misty looked on. Misty has anxiety issues. (Also control, gluttony, and patience issues.)
Buster saw Misty, trotted away from Anabelle boldly, sniffed Misty’s nose and trotted around to check out the rest of her.
This triggered panic attack. With Misty’s disorder, panic equals I hate the world and I cannot stop running. Misty bucked kicked. (Anabelle gasped when she saw those hooves in the air only a foot from Buster’s head. I did too.) Then Misty took off running. Circles. Pause for catch your breath obesity moment. More circles. One of Misty’s favourite ways to say I hate the world, is to chase the sheep. Occasionally, she looped towards Buster, mostly she ran laps with timeouts to charge at the sheep.
The sheep, bellies full of baby lambs, have unfortunately not been keeping up with their prenatal exercises. I had thought the snow was prohibiting movement, but based on the successful mad dashes away from Misty every third circle of the pasture, the snow was not as much of an impediment as I had thought. Buster was unphased by the goings on. He was ready to explore by himself, thanks. If anything, the fat galloping pony gave him confidence. Ten feet he would run. Anabelle moved in front. Twenty feet the other way. Anabelle ran or walked as needed. Buster went where he wanted, but Anabelle stayed in between Misty and Buster at all times.
The sheep begged to get inside away from equine insanity. I have a soft spot for expecting mothers, so I let them in. A few minutes later, Misty was begging to get inside. She never chooses in, always preferring an open field, but even she had had enough. It was time for somewhere quiet. Safe from that nasty black thing in the pasture. The only one at peace was Buster. I put Misty in, made sure she and the sheep had hay and water and left Buster to it with the whole pasture to himself.
Anabelle appreciated the arrangement.
Girl one, from outside: Mom, we don’t have to worry about when Anabelle is having her calf anymore.
Me, not getting it: Why’s that?
Girl one: She already had it.
Me still not getting it: Are you sure?
Girl one pointing: Look
So very, very happy news. Anabelle pulled this off in twenty minutes. She was lying down pregnant when we drove in from seeing friends, and calf was out by the time we changed our clothes to go outside. All pictures are of few minutes old calf with very new mom. In case you can’t tell, we bred Miss mostly Charolais (pronounced Shar-lay) Anabelle with a Black Angus. And also in case you can’t tell, Black Angus cows can be the colour of night. Which would, by the way make an excellent name for the new calf, but it has been rejected. A few hours of political jockeying was followed by an intense hour of name discussions. We finally went to bed. Rejected names include: Joey, Pierre, Felix, Night, Knight, Prince, Sir Eliot, Tumnus, Obsidian, Space, Pupil, Burger, Burnt Marshmellow, and others. Under strong consideration are Buster and King, although there is a lobby going for a name we haven’t thought of yet as long as it isn’t Buster or King.
My husband and I are in love with the BBC series, “Call the Midwife.” We just finished season one and a friend just loaned us a copy of season two today. Season three starts at the end of March. I may be taking vows soon never to watch anything not produced by BBC or CBC . . . and really the CBC is just to keep it in the family, and because I can’t get enough of Newfoundland. Even the commercials during, “Republic of Doyle,” soothe me. (If I ever disappear, this is where to find me.)
Back to the Midwives . . . I have a soft spot in my heart four babies wide for midwives. The midwives I knew managed a pregnant me with remarkable amounts of grace and humour. The kids came out ok too.
So watching midwives at work in London’s east end in the 1950’s is nostalgia, fascination, inspiration and creative regeneration all rolled into one. The writing, the acting, the nuns (I LOVE the nuns – that’s the other place you’ll find me if I ever disappear), even the theme song pleases me.
The weather people say it’s going to be a cold March up here. I hope it’s warmer by the 29th. That’s when Anabelle is due with her first calf. (Not that we can guarantee she’s pregnant. All we can say for sure if that if she gets any bigger, we can probably just use her as a barn to put the sheep into at night.) I look at her and think about getting the baby’s room ready. I know we can’t go with wallpaper, but really something needs to done to cheer up that winter weary barn and let everybody know that good things are on the way. Come May, the weather will hopefully give the sheep an easier time of it.
I’m hugely glad for upcoming birthing. My chances of becoming a midwife in 1950’s England are quite a bit smaller than becoming a figure skater. Out here in 2014, I’ll have to make do with a cow, some sheep, and a little imagination.