From Pipi’s Pasture: Here an onion, there an onion
This past spring we were supposed to start calving in March, but, surprise, we got our first calf on Valentine’s Day. Gestation times vary somewhat with individual breeds so our Simmentals may give birth earlier than other cattle or maybe it was just the cows—whatever the reason, with the snowy winter and all, it wasn’t a “pretty” calving season. So I vowed, “the bull doesn’t go out until July this year.”
When we moved the cows to summer pasture, I remembered what I had vowed. The bull, #66, remained in the corral at Pipi’s Pasture. He’s a big, mild-tempered bull that has never caused us any problems, but he likes to rub on everything, especially corral poles. There’s probably reason for this because after a long winter, his skin is undoubtedly itchy. Anyway, earlier in the spring he had rubbed down a pole in a rickety section of corral fence.
This small section of fence was broken a couple of years ago when two bulls got into a fight and one bull cleared the fence, breaking poles in the process. We didn’t have time to redo the section so we “temporarily” fixed it by wiring a long panel in front of the spot. So when #66 broke off the pole we put it back and thought about how the fence needed to be fixed.
But then #66 continued his rubbing. Pretty soon he had a bottom pole hanging down. Then he discovered that he could push the panel upwards. I wired the panel to the remaining poles so he couldn’t push it up.
That brings us up to a week or so ago, after the main bunch of cows was moved to summer pasture. I went out one morning, and #66 had broken off the bottom pole again and bent two of the panel’s bars. I enlisted Lyle’s help, we took the panel down, re-wired the poles, and replaced he panel, moving the bent part over.
Lyle said, “Well, maybe that will hold him for a day or two.”
He was right. It was a morning or two later when I was opening the big gates to the hay yard/garden area that I spotted #66 standing next to the fence that separates the garden from the little pasture. He had bent the panel’s bars up far enough to crawl out of his pen.
The only alternative I had was to put #66 in the other corral pen with MoCo, our granddaughter’s cow that is waiting to calve. I rolled a bale of hay to the gate and called #66. I couldn’t believe my luck. The bull came up to the gate, stood beside me, and as I threw out hay, he walked into the corral.
After feeding the animals I surveyed the garden for damage. Luckily I had planted only onions that were starting to sprout. Because the garden had been well-tilled, the bull’s big footprints were deep. Some of the soil appeared to have been re-tilled. As far as the sprouted onions were concerned, it was “here an onion, there an onion…” and onion sets were scattered around the two big rows.
Perhaps worst of all, #66 had gotten his feet tangled up in string that was attached to two stakes, marking a row. I’m not sure how he did it, but string was tangled up in the trees that grow along the fence. It was like working on a puzzle to get it untangled from the trees’ lower branches.
The next day #66 started rubbing on the corral’s back gate, prompting Lyle and me to wire a panel in front of it.
To sum things up, it isn’t July yet, but #66 is going to summer pasture this weekend.