Another day of brown matter, only this time it’s identifiable. The girls moved up to the pens today. A couple of cows need a pedicure. And when mommy gets a pedicure, what better time to get your ears pierced! We have eight calves on the farm so far. Two of them are tagged and the others need their tags done. Everyone’s doing it.
The cattle move went very well. When we started, there were two Black Hawk like things sniffing our alfalfa (Dude, a little close this time you think?). Also, there were two LOUD sonic booms. It was a fun-filled military show in the French countryside today. Despite loud noises and crazy helicopters, we finally see the calming effect of cows. Cows are older, had their baby or four and are really in no hurry to get anywhere. They were barely fazed by such intrusions. Brent moves the herd all the time. The daily “new grass” move is calm. When he does a long move with a facebook of heifers, running and general giddiness is the theme. But they stop. Quite quickly. With the cows, everyone slows down and moves like cows. There’s no rush. We chew. We moo. I love the cows. There was a hiccup at the point where the fence led them into the pens. We recovered. We have some improvements for our pen approach plan.
Now that the girls are here and our calf ear tags have at last arrived, Brent wanted to tag the calves. The pens are partially completed. They are beautiful. I heart the new pens. They are not done. Our calf tagging plan involves a full set of pens. With our partial set, Brent laid out a method that was very Gascon.
The deal with calf tagging is you need to catch the calf and pierce both ears with a little plastic tag and a very quick, strong, relatively painless clampy thing. But see, there’s the mom. She’s usually right next to the calf and extremely interested in the calf’s whereabouts. I can relate. My children are very important to me and I constantly worry about them. Any separation can lead to worry, panic and aggressive behavior. Otto is away on a school trip right now. He’s never been away this long, ever. Inside I’m mooing. The act of catching a calf to tag it seemed scary to me.
With our half pens, this was the plan:
– I stand in a newly installed pen with tagging tools
– Brent gently works the herd to catch a calf
– Brent hands the calf to me in the pen (safe away from potentially aggressive mama)
– Calf gets tagged
– Calf happily returns with mama and the herd
This is what happened:
– I stood in the pen ( in my expensive jeans and cashmere sweater. Dumb girl. )
– Brent worked the herd and caught the calf
– Brent carried the calf to me (further than planned. He’s very tired tonight), while mama cow was watching, but totally chill and calm
– Brent rolled under the gate and helped the calf be still for the ear piercing. Those little barely-a-week-old calves are strong!
– Together we held the calf while one of us tagged
– Calf happily returned with mama and the herd
It was a day of brown. It was a day where “in sickness and in health and in tagging calves” must have been listed in the fine print of our wedding vows. For some crazy reason, I didn’t imagine myself laying my entire weight, fancy jeans and all, on a calf to keep it from running so I could tag it. I had visions of a weaker calf. One that I could sit on while my white, cashmere sweater stayed clean. It suddenly came clear why the local farmers wear these aquamarine overalls when they work with the cows. Up to this point, I’ve not rolled around in cow-brown nicely mixed with straw. It helps keep your perspective in life. When a job needs to get done, these things are unimportant. We worked together. Every cow was calm and we managed to tag five of the six we were trying to do. The last one was tricky because mama cow was giving Brent the “hairy eyeball.” We’ll give it another go tomorrow. Only this time, I’ll wear my overalls.