From Pipi’s Pasture: It’s almost time
It’s almost time. In less than two weeks, we’ll be moving the cows, calves and bulls to summer pasture. They’re ready, and so are we.
Some of the cows at Pipi’s Pasture have been going to the same summer pasture for 10 years or more, so as April nears, they begin standing next to the fences, their faces pointed to the east and their noses in the air. Perhaps they smell the wild onions or the sprouting grasses. By May they’re restless, pacing the pasture.
I wonder if they remember the high country pasture, with its trees for scratching, for shade on hot summer days or the tall grasses or ponds of water. Perhaps it’s the grassy flat up high, where they can look across the valley below. Whatever it is, they’re ready to go.
By May, the grass at Pipi’s Pasture is emerald green, and the cows and calves eat as close to the fences as possible, trying to reach it. Even the calves press their mouths as close to the wire as possible, sticking their tongues through the open spaces — anything to reach a few blades of grass. We worry. Will they get out?
Only a few mornings ago, we had three escapees, though they were right here by the house. It happened after Lyle drove the tractor next to the gate into the pasture. We pulled two panels up to keep the entryway enclosed so that the cows don’t get out. Until the other morning, I had not been securing the overlapping panels with a wire. I paused. Should I? I decided not to — a mistake.
When I was putting off hay, Lyle pointed to the house. Two calves were eating grass in the yard. A little later, we found a cow in the hay/garden enclosure. She had pushed the panels open. It took a while to get them all back into Pipi’s Pasture, and it could have been prevented with the simple twist of a wire.
Another example of the cows’ pushiness has Kitty at center stage. Kitty is the big middle-aged cow belonging to our granddaughter Megan. She remembers what happens when Lyle mows the lawn (so do many of the cows for that matter). He tosses the clippings over the fence. So this year, when Lyle drove the ride mower onto the lawn to mow the lawn, there she was — bawling.
Kitty followed the mower along the fence. She waited — but not patiently. Others joined her, but more quietly. Lyle tossed the clippings over the fence, but when they were gone, she continued to bawl. After he put the mower away, she bawled. When she saw him walking, she bawled.
A neighbor took notice. She wondered why the cow was bawling. Was something wrong?
Lyle answered, “I was mowing the lawn.”
And that’s not all. A couple of days later. Kitty came up along the fence while Lyle and I were planting potatoes in the garden, and she started her bawling act. She did the same thing when I was at the corral feeding the bulls later and filling the stock tank and when Lyle took mineral across the pasture with the four-wheeler.
It may appear Kitty’s behavior is related to getting a treat, but that’s not the whole story. It’s time to go to summer pasture, and she’s on edge. A sound that resembles a stock trailer — a pickup truck, a 4-wheeler, the UPS vehicle, a car parked along the road, or almost anything else — causes a stampede of cows and calves in the direction of the sound.
It’s almost time. The cows are ready, and so are we.
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