Sometimes, You Need To Grab The Bull By Its Horns

Or be handed a rope wrapped around horns with a bull on the end.  I wasn’t planning to hop in the pen and separate the calves with Brent, but sometimes you need to act on an opportunity.  We need to wean the calves.  Brent is finishing up his cow pen design.  Using the buildings we have, Brent had successfully and calmly scootched the two black calves (baby bulls) into the pen and locked the door.  With one left to go, he thought he’d try the same approach.  Gordito, the final male calf to be separated, was very calm, but waffled a bit in joining his buddies.  Brent decided to rope his horns and gently guide him in that way.  One thing led to another and I found myself holding onto a rope with a bull on the end pulling with all my strength to guide him into the narrow hallway that will lead him to the pen with his buddies.  He was a bit stubborn, but with Brent’s presence and pressure, he got him into the gate.  And let me tell you these three things.  One, cow poop is slippery when wet.  Two, when you’re handed a rope that has been sitting momentarily in cow poop, it is slippery as it is wet.  Three, when you go watching your husband work with the cows, be sure to leave your wedding rings at home, try to avoid wearing a miniskirt and always wear underwear (climbing over fences can be somewhat tricky without vital undergarments).  I’ve always been a fan of wearing a miniskirt after thirty-five and by-golly France has time after time supported me on this virtue.  Thankfully, our Madonna will lead the way for women in miniskirts.  However, when you are roping bulls and dragging them calmly through to a pen, I might recommend alternate attire.  The bulls are very pleased with their new accommodation.  They have some lovely hay, the finest water and are close to their mums as they grow up and get on with it already.  I mean you can’t sit around, watch Lost and play video games all day.  They’re big bulls now and it’s time to grow up and step into life already.  The mums are doing very well.  Two of the mums are practically thanking us for helping the bulls move on to their special purpose.  The other mum is moo-ing a bit, but is close to her calf so she should work it out in a couple of days.  The bull pen is silent.  I think the boys were ready.  And now we get to use “bull pen” in its original form.  I love this about farming.  We grabbed the bull by the horns and it’s hanging out in the bull pen.

GrayCute was right there the whole time helping Brent with all the tractor work.  Moving hay with the tractor can be tough work, but some cat has to do it.

7 thoughts on “Sometimes, You Need To Grab The Bull By Its Horns

  1. Lynn says:

    I don’t know. Maybe this is more of a technical question. But the other day we left Paris for home-home, which is San Francisco. I whined and sniffled and finally went out and bought us a great big vitello T-bone steak. Now I’m liking it here. Really, it will be okay. But this vitello thing has me wondering. The ladies at Prather Ranch tell me it is veal, sort of, but humanely raised and a year older than that pinky-pale shoebox-raised stuff that Mr. otherwise-Wonderful loves to buy in Paris.

    So the question is, have you guys ever heard of vitello? And, well, is that the future for your newly-minted bulls?

  2. wobbly says:

    Veal here is always veau sous la mère, which is about 4 months old. The live in little pens and get brought to their mother twice a day, and then to some milk cow like a Normande to get topped up with extra milk.

    What I saw on ‘vitellone’ seems to be inconsistent, but it seems to be beef that is between a year and 20 months in age. Strangely enough, 20 months is when a lot of US beef is eaten as plain ‘beef’.

    With Salers they do raise taurillons for slaughter at 18 months. This might be what we do with one or more of these boys. Gordito in particular will make a fine vitellone. He’d render a lot of good meat right now at 11 months, but we want to give him a bit longer. The younger guys we might turn into steers and give them another couple of years. (See for how they do it in the Cantal.)

    France has something unofficial called veau rosé which is veal which is raised in the field with its mother for about 8 months or so. It is pink meat rather than the white of the 4 month old kind (from the grass) but has more flavor. This would be trivial for us to raise, but I’d rather the meat gets more time to develop some more flavor.

    Can you find out exactly how old they slaughter at? Is it grass-fed and -finished or does it get a grain supplement for finishing? These affect the rate of growth and flavor, too.

  3. wobbly says:

    And that cat sat on my lap in the tractor while I moved the hay feeder, gave hay to the boys and brought in a new bale for the girls. When I had to get out of the tractor to remove the hay net he kept the seat warm. After I went back inside the house he slept in the tractor for another hour or so, at which point Jean took the photo above.

  4. Lynn says:

    So, I wrote to Prather Ranch to ask about the vitellone. Doug Stonebreaker ( actually wrote back. I love it when people do that. Here is his reply:

    Vitellone is a great product and we always get a lot of questions about it so I’m happy to answer your questions:

    -Our vitellone is around 10-12 months at slaughter which is much sooner than the 18-24 months for most beef you buy in the store (grass fed or grain finished).

    -The vitellone has not been weaned from the mother cow so it is getting some milk and eating grass. We do not give any grain to the vitellone calves.

    One reason you don’t see much vitellone in the U.S is because it is not particularly economically viable on any scale because you tend to tie up your mother cows with a pesky teenage kid trying to suckle all day! We currently only raise two per month and its a constant educational process to let people know what a great product it is and the fact that its very sustainable i.e pasture raised, certified humane, grass/milk fed and it takes fewer resources because some of the feed is coming directly from mamma!

    Let me know if you have any more questions and thanks for the support.

    Doug Stonebreaker
    Prather Ranch Meat Co.

    • wobbly says:

      Interesting Lynn, thanks for digging in to that. It describes our boys. Salers are an unusual breed in that they are a meat cow but also a dairy cow. Gordito (who is vitellone age) is still getting a lot of milk from his mother. We could send him to slaughter now but we don’t want to make a kind of meat that we aren’t going to sell all the time and I am unsure if the locals would buy it.

      Still, I’m getting hungry for a good steak. 🙂

  5. bc says:

    Lynn, follow up on this we did slaughter that taurillon and are eating him now. Thanks for the vitellone hint, we can see why folks do it.

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