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Way OT - Cow stories for Dan'l and all the other cow chasers


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#16 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 08, 2015 - 11:46 AM

Wow, your brother must be a tough one!  I think I'd have called it a day, found my thumb, and shot to the hospital immediately.  I've almost got caught in rope the same way, and it happens so bloody fast!

HAHAHA, as the saying goes; tough like bull, smart like tractor.....



#17 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 09, 2015 - 02:15 AM

Here's a short one...

I've mentioned the stanchion milking barn arrangement before. Basically, two rows head stalls that put the output ends of the cows along a central walkway, and put the input ends of the cows facing outward. The pail type millers we had plugged into vacuum pet cocks spaced between every second head stall. One morning about halfway through the morning milking, a neighbor walked into the barn asking for a tow. Being a generous sort, Dad put the udder wash down, waited for the millers in progress to finish, emptied them and left to help the neighbor out of his predicament.

As is typical, a five minute job turned into 20. Now nearly half an hour behind schedule, Dad bustled into the barn, put rubber gloves on because he'd skinned his knuckles on something, splashed some soapy water into udder wash pail out of the pail on the stove, and went back to milking. The next cow in line was a big, normally complacent, Brown Swiss cross. Dad grabbed her tail and bent over to wash her udder to prep for the machine. He no sooner touched her udder with the dripping sponge when she lifted her back leg, planted her foot on his back, and sent him summer salting out into the aisle in the middle of the barn. Turns out the wash water in the stainless steel bucket on the stove was near boiling... He didn't notice how hot it was because of the thick rubber glove. Thankfully, neither he nor the cow had any permanent damage.

Two things happened out of this. 1.) he rarely ever wore gloves again, preferring instead to deal with cracked and chapped hands with creams and ointments after the fact, and 2.) he disconnected one of the two coil heating elements on the stove he kept the udder wash on
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#18 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 09, 2015 - 02:52 PM

Pica -  what an ass!

 

Warning! there is some sensitive subject matter in this post.  Sadly, some things that happen in farm life are considered inappropriate for polite company.  Apologies in advance.

 

Up until I left home in the late 70s, the neighborhood around home was populated with people solidly anchored in the local agricultural scene in one way or another.  Almost everybody who lived around us was either actively farming, or had grown up on a farm and was commuting to town for work.  There was a few that were trying to farm and supplement their income working in the oil patch.  Both farming and the local oil patch are seasonal and the seasons meshed together fairly well.

 

Uncontrolled dogs and strays have almost always been a problem.  I remember as a kid having to deal with the issue on occasion, but because both the dog owner and the livestock owner had the same background, the issue rarely went beyond a warning.  If it did go further, there was mutual understanding that livestock harassment could not, and would not be tolerated. Period.  The livestock owner was understood to be well within his rights to solve the problem himself if it persisted.  Dogs that strayed from home were never taken home more than once.

 

In the 80s, things began to change.  Farms got bigger, more people worked off the farm and rented the land out, and the old guard who had farmed there for decades and were the backbone of the community began to pass on.  Often the land was left to family that had never worked on the farm, had no connection with the community, and had no clue as to what was involved in country life.  It was quite common for people finding themselves suddenly owning the family homestead to move back to their roots and continue working in town.

 

One of the first things people seem to do when they move to the country is to get a dog.  Every farm in the area has a dog, and often more than one.  To be fair, most country folk have an affection for a well behaved companion, and a well trained dog can save herdsmen many steps and a lot of grief.  An untrained dog can wreak havoc.  With the influx of new residents came a flood of poorly trained, ill mannered canines, often left to their own devices through the day.  The new residents seemed to think there was no reason to contain their pets as they were, after all, in the midst of the wide open spaces.....

 

The issue blew up when the dogs left to their own devices, began to stray, pack up, and harass livestock on nearby farms.   These dogs were not afraid of people, and were savvy enough to be home on the front steps waiting for their owners to arrive back home after work.  After a series of incidents in which the dogs had packed up chased animals like horses and cows sometimes putting them through fences and even injuring them or aborting unborn calves the atmosphere began to get pretty tense.  Livestock owners would recognize the dogs on sight, go to the owners to complain about Fido's antics who would either flatly deny, or  promise to keep the dogs under control only to leave Fido to his own devices within the week for a repeat performance.  The situation escalated to the point where ultimatums were tossed back and forth along the lines of "Keep Fido at home or he won't come home" and "You do that and we'll call the cops"....

 

After one of these exchanges, one livestock owner attempted to deal with the problem as had always been done.  Click, Click, BOOM!  But the dog was not killed, only wounded.  Fido managed to drag himself home and crawl up on the door step where his owners found him when they got home from work.  They did what you would expect city folk to do.  They dragged Fido to the vet and ran up several hundred dollars in vet bills before Fido finally expired.  Now the fight was on.  The fallout polarized the neighborhood, half saying the dog should never have been shot, and the other half saying that if Fido had been home where he belonged, there would be nothing to talk about.  The police got involved.  Charges were laid and a claim made for the vet bills.  Counter charges were laid and claims made for livestock vet bills and loss of livestock. As it was largely a case of he said, they said with no independent witnesses and little hard evidence, the charges on both sides were eventually dropped, but the rift in the community remained.

 

Meanwhile, the rest of the pack and their owners had not learned the lesson.  One fall morning, on his way to work in the field, Dad saw his cow herd in a field where they weren't supposed to be.  Thinking hunters may have left some gates open, he went over to the herd to investigate.  As he got closer, he could plainly see that the cows were bunched up, riled up, tired as if they'd been running, and several had fresh barbwire cuts. Dad back trailed the cows through breaks in two cross fences back to the field they'd been in.  All the tracks were fresh.  Seems Fido's pack had come to visit.

 

Since the community was pretty tight knit and not all that big, Dad was well acquainted with all the parties involved in the previous events laid out above.  He was also keenly aware of the shift in population and attitudes towards toward pets, livestock, and the use of guns as a solution.  Lastly he knew he couldn't watch the cows 24/7 or they would have no feed come winter.  What to do? 

 

True to his heritage of innovation and making do, Dad found a solution to the stray dog issue that was both effective and unique in that neighborhood.  He bought a mammoth donkey named Pica.  Turns out, donkeys have managed to retain their dislike of predators and absolutely hate anything feline or canine.  They will not even fully trust the farm's loyal dog. The farm's dogs soon learn to give them a wide berth.  Donkeys will also adopt the farm's herds of cows or sheep if properly socialized.  Guard donkeys like guard dogs like Great Pyrenees guard dogs stay with the herd 24/7 and will vigorously defend the herd from anything canine, be it wild or domestic.

 

At the end of the grazing season, Dad brought home the cows as usual.  After the daily routine was established, he went and got his new guard donkey from the breeder.  He put the donkey in a catch corral off the side of the cows wintering pen.  That corral was used for branding, neutering, weaning, treating, and loading out  as required.  It also had no water.  This meant Dad had to take Pica to water every day as part of the chore routine.  Dad did this by leading Pica to the automatic waterer the cows used and gradually working up to the point where they would take a tour through the cow herd as they made their way back to Pica's corral after Pica had his daily drink of water.  After a while, Dad didn't even need the halter shank.  He'd simply put his hand under Pica's chin and Pica would follow along.  So started the bond between owner and donkey and between donkey and herd.  By the next spring, Pica was well and truly bonded to his adopted herd.  All dad's problems with dog packs and coyotes were over.  For the price of feed and water for one donkey, he got 24/7 companionship and protection for his cow herd.  Eventually, they found other duties for Pica in the offseason, more about that another time maybe.


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#19 olcowhand OFFLINE  

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Posted September 09, 2015 - 03:19 PM

Yes, I've been through the dog thing many times.  Most were wild dogs, truly wild.  There used to be packs of wild dogs years ago that would pull younger stock down to their deaths.  Luckily I never lost any to them, but some of those dogs lost their life trying.  A soldier moved in a few years ago, and seemed like a nice guy, his wife too.  Then one day his pair of German Sheppard chased our heifers till they could barely catch wind.  I told him about it and no problem for a month or so.  Then I caught them with the heifers all bunched up against our barn, and a couple heifer's legs were bleeding pretty good.  I took my rifle & placed some close shots in the dirt and the dogs took off home. I drove to his place that evening when I knew he'd be home & told him I would have to stop them the next time if they did it again.  Surprisingly he took total responsibility & assured me it would never happen again, and that he would pay any damages.  I kept an eye on those heifers and they healed right away, and his dogs have never come into our fields since.  His dogs had never been around cattle, so I gave them their one chance and in a rare case, it paid off.  He now has cattle of his own.

  I hope not to need a donkey, but if I do, I'll get one.  I do know they work!


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#20 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 09, 2015 - 11:57 PM

Another benefit.  There is absolutely no danger a donkey will pack up with a roaming dog pack.  Guard dog, who knows?



#21 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 15, 2015 - 06:39 AM

Dad loses his ass.

 

Those following these sagas will know that Dad bought a donkey to protect his beef cows from straying dogs and other assorted canines.  Pica was doing a great job as herd protector.  After a few seasons with Pica on patrol, as people sometimes do, Dad and big brother started to think about other jobs Pica could do in the offseason when his guard duties were over for the season. 

 

With Dad's history, he had a hankering to break Pica to harness and have him pull a cart.  This training was in full swing when he and big brother stumbled on some other information.  It seems that as well as herd protectors, donkeys were good at halter breaking bulls and cows.  Anyone reading big Brother's thumb story will recognize that there was a need for assistance in halter breaking bulls for sale.

 

The theory is that donkeys are more stubborn than bulls and will not put up with misbehaviour.  A balky bull may get a swift kick or two in the ribs as discipline.  To break a bull, the bull wears a halter hooked to a special harness the donkey wears.  A couple hours a day hooked to a donkey a few day in a row, the bull soon learns to submit to being lead around.  So a harness was rigged up and in the fall, Pica went to live at big brother's place up the road.  As late fall is the slow season, Big Bro had time to hook up each of the bulls selected for sale for a couple hours each for a few days after which, the bulls were fully trained.

 

Donkeys are a bit unique.  They look scruffy and underfed compared to horses when in fact they are in prime condition.  As with horses too much rich food is not good for them.  Cattle men often use some very high protein rations to fatten and finish animals as well as to condition animals to prepare them for winter and to help cows bounce back from the rigors of lactation and delivery.

 

To make a long story short, after several years as herd protector, and a couple more as a bull trainer, Pica got too much hot feed when at big bro's place, and died of complications.  By this time, the dog problem in the neighborhood had mostly resolved itself, and Dad was very close to retirement.  Due to these factors, Pica was not replaced.


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#22 massey driver ONLINE  

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Posted September 15, 2015 - 08:34 AM

Good to have you post some short stories. There always fun to read,thanks for the laughs.



#23 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted September 15, 2015 - 11:59 AM

I remember when I was a kid,my Uncle Bob having a cow he trained to ride. Anyone else try that?



#24 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 15, 2015 - 02:14 PM

I remember when I was a kid,my Uncle Bob having a cow he trained to ride. Anyone else try that?

I come from Cowboy country right?  My Grandfather and two cousins rode in competitive rodeo events for a while.   As kids, my brother and I attempted to ride every animal on the farm except the dog and the herd bull and that was because Dad specifically forbade it.  The old sow was the hardest to ride.  Some of the milk cows were quiet enough that they were easy to ride.  Some of the calves we had were also disappointingly tame. 

 

The most annoying animal was the old horse we had.  If he didn't like his rider, he'd rub them off on a poplar tree and head for the home corral.  Sometimes it was closer just to get the cows on foot and take them home as it would have been to walk back to the corral to catch the old nag and set out for the cows again.

 

We always had to ride the old horse bareback.  I think we ticked Dad off when we put the saddle on a milk cow just before letting her out of the milking barn.....


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#25 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 16, 2015 - 07:42 PM

Wow, your brother must be a tough one!  I think I'd have called it a day, found my thumb, and shot to the hospital immediately.  I've almost got caught in rope the same way, and it happens so bloody fast!


Not specifically cow related but speaks to the tough thing......

My maternal Grandfather had restricted range of motion in his neck. He couldn't turn his head very far side to side. Made riding a bale stooker during haying behind him a bit difficult because he would go a long time between turning around far enough to check on you back there.

In his early 60s, he was diagnosed with TB. he spent a long time doctoring and away at the local care centre, and eventually recovered. During this time , he had frequent chest X-Rays. When assessing one of these X-rays, the doc pointed to a spot at the top of the film and asked "when did you break your neck?". What! do you mean?., says Gramps. "See this? This is a healed break." Gramps thought about it a while and finally remembered that back in his 20s, he'd been thrown off a bronc at a local rodeo and had had a very sore and stiff neck that lasted over a month. At the time, it was obvious to him what the cause was, so he just took it easy for a while and slowly recovered. Never saw a doc for it , just took it easy and took a few non prescription pain meds.....
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#26 oldedeeres ONLINE  

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Posted September 17, 2015 - 01:51 PM

       Several years ago when bison ranching came in up here, a neighbour had a cow with twins. She would only accept one of them, and you don't change a bison cows mind easily, so he asked me if I wanted to try and bottle raise the little thing. Dumb question really, because I'll try and look after any little creature who needs a helping hand, and the neighbour knew it. For a while it became a local hobby to pass on orphaned or injured stock/wildlife to the Olde Deeres just to see if there was anything they wouldn't try and save,  but I digress!  We drove over to get the little calf and met the rancher limping across the yard---- the hours old calf had kicked him soundly on the knee, twice, and then bunted him hard enough that he backed into the wall of the shed and banged his head on the low rafter of the overhang. Round one to a 40 lb. bison heifer.

     I managed to pick the little thing up and held her on my knee in the front of the truck for the 20 mile ride home. By the time we got home we had come to an agreement--- I covered her eyes with a towel and breathed on her face and nose the whole way, stroking and petting as much as I could. She accepted this by the time we pulled into the yard, and a bottle of warm cow colostrum cemented the deal. Bison milk is much richer than cow milk so I started "Mardella" on lamb milk replacer and she thrived on it. She spent her days tied to various trees, trucks and power poles around the yard, went for walks wearing her little red halter and following on a dog leash, with me in the lead and her right behind. As she got older I left her loose in the yard and she'd follow me everywhere, watering the garden, picking berries, fixing machinery etc. But only me and My Olde Deere---- everyone else was "Stranger, Danger" in her mind and treated with suspicion.

    One of the Game Wardens used to stop in every couple of weeks for a cup of tea and visit as he made his rounds and he knew about Mardella and had seen her many times tied in the yard or walking on her lead beside me. One day he dropped in and Mardella had unhooked her tie down and was lying on the back step peacefully chewing her cud while she waited for us to come back from the field. At this time she weighed about 300 lbs., had graduated to a "big girl" halter, very sturdy and strong, and was so tame she often came in the house with us and had a snack in the entryway hall before going back out. She loved anything sour or bitter and would munch on a lemon peel, slobbering and drooling all over the place.

    Our friend, thinking he would help us and tie her up again, grabbed her by the halter, both hands on the cheek straps either side of her face, and tried to lead her back to her rope. Half an hour later she was still pushing him all around the yard, stomping on his toes, bunting him in the belly, dragging him in circles, managed to strike forward with her sharp little hooves and tear his uniform, and generally wear down a six foot four 250lb. officer  of the wildlife department to a frazzle. Why he didn't just let go is beyond me---- manly pride I guess. He did finally get her over to the rope and snapped it onto her halter, and when we drove into the yard he was still sitting on the step, bruised, battered and dripping sweat. After he had had a cold drink and told us his story we all had a good laugh about it and I untied Mardella and she came and grazed on the lawn beside the three of us as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

    After that, every time he came to the yard and we weren't home, he would leave a note saying he had dropped by and taken Mardella for a walk. We knew it never happened!

         In those days, the bison market was poor, they were worth practically nothing. When we weaned her off in the fall I tallied up the lamb milk replacer bill and found that we had spent just over $600.00  to raise an animal that we could have purchased at the same weight for about $150.00 at market.     Farmer math at its finest.


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#27 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 18, 2015 - 02:58 AM

Farmer math.  Seen a few things like that.

 

Like the million dollar PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) ranch that lasted 5 years until they managed to perfect synthetic Estrogen for birth control pills.  Some how, ladies wanting birth control were more comfortable taking pills with synthetic hormone rather than pills made from natural estrogen extracted from horse piss...

 

Like the fad herds like Bison - only one facility in the whole province of Alberta that would process the meat, ad the meat was exorbitantly priced.  Bottom fell out of that market

 

Like the fad of Llamas- one year breeding pairs were $1000s of dollars, 2 years later they couldn't get a bid on them at the annual odd and unusual sale.

 

Oh, and last but not least, Ostriches.  Billed as a great source of lean meat and extra large eggs....  No facility would process them.  Without government inspection, they couldn't sell the meat.  That fad lasted a year or so until the ostrich farmers figured out there was no market for the meat after all.

 

The common thread is the get rich quick schemes with high initial cost seem to benefit only the first few in the market.  The late comers seem to take it on the chin (or in the pocket book).


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#28 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted September 18, 2015 - 05:59 AM

I remember there was an old wives' tale that if you picked up a calf the day it was born and every day there after; you could pick it up when it was full grown. I wonder if anyone every fell for that.


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#29 olcowhand OFFLINE  

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Posted September 18, 2015 - 06:18 AM

There was an ostrich farm very near here and a buffalo ranch too. Let's just sat they're no longer. Now there's a guy up the road with alpacas. Bet he's making a fortune.
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#30 camdigger OFFLINE  

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Posted September 18, 2015 - 07:07 AM

Alpaca wool is supposed to be excellent. Not sure how many mittens and sweaters one fleece might make.

I forgot to mention the most recent fad, that of keeping indigenous game animals for....?

I know there are Elk and White Tail deer farms around home. Seems the Asians use the antler velvet for some kind of herbal medicine. One elk ranch even exports the antler velvet for processing and then re imports it in capsule form for sale. Most of those "ranches are having disease issues like Chronic Wasting Disease.

Oh, and Timothy hay pellets. In the last 15 years, there has been a lot of effort put into raising good quality Timothy hay to be dried and cubed for export. I guess somewhere, someone is paying the premium for horse feed made out of imported Canadian grass.( not the THC stuff either).
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