From Pipi’s Pasture: Routines
This past June, when we were turning cattle out onto summer pasture, I started to write a column about the corral routine because it was getting ready to change. I didn’t think readers would enjoy reading the column so I set it aside.
Then a couple of weeks ago, I started working on the column again because the routine will change again in a couple of weeks. Again, I set the column aside. But then I realized why the column doesn’t seem interesting. Routines appear to be boring — the same tasks done in the same way twice a day, every day for months. It’s not that the tasks themselves are boring because there are other variables such as the silly things that the cattle do, having cats around, and so forth.
However, I think that keeping routines is important. For example, parents know that one of the secrets to successful parenting is keeping a consistent routine. Kids feel safe when they know what to expect. They know that they are going to get their needs met. Their bodies seem to like routines, too, because the kids thrive. That applies to cows, too, and other animals.
Take my summer corral routine, for example. First I need to explain that while the main bunch of cattle is on summer pasture, four head of cows, two calves, and one bull have remained here at Pipi’s Pasture for various reasons. Among them are two old cows, Ucky and Sarah, Ucky’s calf, and Sarah’s three-year-old twin. The cattle are divided into two corrals, and Sarah and her daughter roam the little pasture after morning feeding.
So the corral routine starts at daylight. I fill a bucket with grain and start for the corral. The animals are watching for me to go through the big gates that keep the deer away from the hay and garden. They’re patient because I’m there at the same time, day after day.
I begin by rolling a bale of hay next to the pen at the left where I feed a bull, cow, and calf. I save a little of the hay for the night chores. Then, on my way to the other corral, I put the hose through the fence so I can fill a stock tank a little later.
Sarah and her daughter get a dab of hay with grain spread on top. This is to allow me a little time to push a bale of hay through the gate and carry a bucket of grain to Ucky, who has spent the night in a pen so she can eat her grain in peace. Sarah and her daughter are used to the routine; they don’t try to follow me.
See? I hope this isn’t boring already!
Then I spread out the bale of hay. By then, Ucky has finished her grain so I turn her and her calf out for the day. I clean the pen. Then, all that is left of the routine is to fill the stock tanks. Later, after Sarah and her twin have eaten, I let them out into the little pasture. They are usually waiting by the gate for me. Routine.
In the late afternoon I’m back at the corral again. This time I put Sarah and her daughter back into the corral, call Ucky and her calf into the pen so she can eat her grain in peace, feed all of them a little more hay and fill the water tanks.
In two weeks the corral routine will change a little bit because the cattle will be home for the winter. It takes a little time for everyone to get used to a routine, but then we’re set for another few months.
Routines may seem boring, but they’re important.
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