From Pipi’s Pasture: The countdown begins
May 16, 2014
First of all, I enjoyed a brief visit with a kind reader when I was grocery shopping today. Getting to meet people is the best thing about writing a column. Thanks so much for reading "From Pipi's Pasture."
Right now, turning the cows out onto summer pasture is what's on the minds of our family members — and the cows. Just across the fence on all sides of Pipi's Pasture is green grass, and where the little feedlot pasture borders the house yard, the grass is emerald green. For the cows, looking at that grass must be like kids looking through the window of a candy shop. So they try every way possible to reach the grass. That means reaching over, through and under the fence wires. For ranchers, keeping cows inside a pasture this time of year is a nightmare.
Turning the cows out should happen in about 10 days — hopefully. Before that can happen, the grass needs to grow, the branding has to take place and the fences have to be checked.
In the meantime, the cows, bulls and calves have their grouchy days, which were made worse during the recent storm (not that we don 't appreciate the moisture). During the storm, the wind changed directions several times during the day, making it difficult for the cows to stay out of it. The wind was cold, too, and the corrals were as sloppy as they are in spring. Like us, the animals are ready for warm days.
So I've been thinking that waiting to turn the cows out is similar to a countdown for an unrelated event — like launching a spacecraft, for example; 10, 9, 8 … etc. The cow countdown and the events for that day might go something like this:
1. Calving season is officially over. The last (late) calf was born.
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2. After the storm, the grass along the fences is emerald green, the trees are leafing out and the cows have noticed.
3. The cows and calves are reaching over, under and between wires on the fences. We have to keep an eye on the fences.
4. A section of fence around the yard has been pushed so that it's leaning. The cows have eaten over into the yard about a foot. Repair of the fence includes using the tractor to pull the posts up and putting in two new posts besides.
5. A section of fence along the highway has been pushed so that it's leaning. Ditto for the repair work on the yard fence.
6. A cow inspected the repaired fence and decided not to bother trying to reach over; she just jumped into the yard. She promptly went to lockdown.
7. Finally, a day without rain, snow and wind. We can brand.
8. The snow has melted, and the soil has dried up. The fence can be repaired.
9. The calves have rested up from branding day, the bulls have had their annual health checks and the cows are starting to cycle. The animals are ready to go.
10. The trailer tires, brakes and lights have been checked. The pickup has been filled with gas.
Ready set, go! (And now the cows, calves, and bulls probably won't want to load.)