Whenever we are working livestock, and we are working hard, we are doing something very wrong — or somebody is. It’s usually somebody else.

— Bud Williams

A Challenging Group of Calves

This picture of me driving these calves this afternoon comes with quite a story. These calves were delivered to their new owner Thursday, April 5. They stood nicely in the corral for several hours, and so the owners decided to let them out into their single-strand electric fenced pasture. Well, the calves were not quite as gentle as expected, and they headed out. The owners called me (having worked with my office and heard of my stockmanship skills) Friday asking advice. I volunteered that Tina and I would go bring them in. We walked about 12 miles on Saturday and managed only to track the calves to a hay field about 2 miles north of their “home” property. I suggested the owners watch that hayfield for the calves and call us if they see them.

They called Sunday after church saying they had them in sight in the hayfield. We drove up and headed down toward them. They turned into the brush beside the (unfenced) hayfield, which happened to be right where the 2003 tornado went through. What a mess to walk through! We walked through it three times and saw the calves for brief moments. We finally thought to call the owners who had been waiting on the hill, and they said the calves had came out of the brush and headed to the other end of the pasture. So, we walked up and saw them waiting there right at the edge of another set of woods. We approached them, and again they melted off into the trees. Because it was getting late, and we were unsure of just how to deal with them (because what we had been doing wasn’t working really well), we headed back home and called Eunice! She gave us some excellent advice on working wild cattle, and we got ready to deal with them the next morning.

Monday morning we tracked them from where we had last seen them and walked another 6-7 miles around the woods 1-2 miles north of their “home.” Finally we decided it just wasn’t gaining anything and so called it a day. Again I suggested the owners watch for the calves and call me if they saw them. Or, the weather forecast was for rain Tuesday, and that would help the tracking on Wednesday.

Tuesday morning the owners called with the most bizarre twist of the entire story. They had spread grain in various pastures on their place and woke in the morning to see one bag moved around and some cattle in the ONLY secure (4 strand barbed wire) pasture on their place. They just assumed it was the neighbor’s cattle who had got on them before. They went down and got a closer look, and sure enough, those 11 calves had walked the two miles back home (through brush and trees as there was no direct path between where they were and their “home”) and into the secure paddock! They shut the gate and called me!

We went over Wednesday afternoon and worked them for an hour and a half and got them relaxed a lot from where they were when I started. We went back again this afternoon, and they drove even better. They still aren’t ready to turn out into single-strand electric, but they are getting better!

The owners think the grain drew them in . . . I wonder whether Tina and I didn’t “will them” back home?

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