From Pipi’s Pasture: Settling in
Last weekend we brought the cows, calves, and bulls home from summer pasture. Coming home to Pipi’s Pasture is always followed by a short period of adjustment for the cattle — and us, too.
For Lyle and me, bringing the cattle home means that we have to start feeding hay. Most people put their cattle out on their hay meadows in the fall, but we don’t have any. So we have to get ourselves into a feeding routine early in the fall, allowing enough time in the morning so that I can make my away-from-home work appointments. It’s an adjustment, all right.
Then there’s a lot more stock water tank-filling to do, checking and filling three tanks a day, plus some smaller tanks to ensure that the smaller summer calves can get water. I fill tanks before going to work and then later in the afternoons.
It doesn’t take long before we’re into a new routine, and the same is true of the cattle. As soon as they stepped out of the trailers, they checked out Pipi’s Pasture. It’s not that they didn’t remember home — they just had to check it out. And, as far as remembering is concerned, there were two examples this past week that prove the cattle remember Pipi’s Pasture.
First of all, there’s Kitty, our granddaughter Megan’s cow. Last spring she started coming down to the corral in late afternoon when I fed the bulls a little more hay and filled the stock tank. Kitty bawled at me. She wanted a treat. So each day I gave her a little bit of hay. Guess who showed up for a treat the day after she was home.
Then there’s the twin steer calf that I supplemented with a bottle of milk twice a day last spring. His brother, the older of the twins, was a little more aggressive about nursing and seemed to get more milk so I fed the younger one to make sure he got a good start. Guess who came up to the fence to get fed again.
The cattle recognized their surroundings. The biggest adjustment for them, perhaps, was establishing the pecking order, which had to do with the animals that stayed home this summer. For example, one of the bulls was home, and when the two bulls from summer pasture were put in with him, they had to figure out who was boss. It didn’t take long. The stay-at-home bull, that is a lot heavier, snorted at the other two, letting them know who is boss — for now, anyway.
Sarah, her 2-year-old twins and their calves, and a cow that calved late were also home for the summer. Although they were fed in the corral, these animals had the run of Pipi’s Pasture. So when the other animals came home, there was lots of bawling, pawing dirt and some fighting to establish whose territory is whose. Besides that, Ucky, an old cow, is now resident of the corral, so that she can be fed grain. The stay-at-home animals have had to get used to that.
All in all, everyone is settling in.
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