Thursday, June 4, 2009

Halter Skelter

A couple mornings ago I was up at 6 a.m. making coffee when I was surprised to see the neighbor dairy farmer ride into the yard on his 4-wheeler. He had come to tell us that our cow had gotten out of our fence--in fact was at their dairy farm. I woke up Cadence and we ran there to discover Lariat (our Dexter cow) running around the outside of the pen containing the young heifers. We weren't exactly sure how we were going to herd her home down the gravel road. Cadence ran back home to get a bucket with Lariat's favorite treats when Lariat suddenly bolted homeward. I stopped traffic on the road and used my instinctual herding technique to drive her toward the fence. It was a high adrenalin way to start the morning (no need for that coffee.) We realized then we really need to focus on getting the cows used to wearing a halter and walking on a lead.
Sara and Cadence had just begun putting a halter on Lariat and Reuben a few days earlier. Now, each evening they are doing halter work. Cadence is working with her Jersey steer, Reuben. He is growing so fast and he is so affectionate he needs to be well-mannered so he doesn't hurt anyone inadvertantly.
Sara is working with Lariat because she dreams of actually taming her enough too be able to milk her. Fortunately, Lariat is highly motivated by calf starter kibble.

Reuben balks a bit occasionally but doesn't seem to mind the halter much. He would follow you anywhere anyway.
Lariat follows the bucket of treats. She feels entitled to her evening treat and bawls crabbily if we are late with it.

Cadence ends the training session with a bit of grooming. Since Reuben doesn't have a mother to lick him clean, it is important we brush him regularly.
Sara discovered that Lariat also LOVES the young pampas grass, so she is using that as an incentive. She lets us pet her whole body now - even touch her udder- but doesn't like us to stroke her forehead the way you always see people pet horses. I suspect it will be quite some time before she allows us to milk her.


mo'ikeha said...

Seems that they are 'as much fun as my 22 month old son' ;)
Years since I last saw a cow on my own - yes, that's possible. One more reason why I enjoy your site so much. Please have a nice weekend.

nikina said...

your cows are are doing such a great job out there :) it is so much fun to read your blogs !!! thanx for sharing !!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Susan for a lovely post! I'm learning so much from you and I really appreciate it. Reuben is adorable. I love that you 'walk' your cows!

JC said...

I always enjoyed going to the State Fair and I'd want to see the cows every time.

Thanks for the lovely photos of your cow gang ...

Anonymous said...

What may seem like work to you guys, seems like so much fun to me. I love reading your blog and I learn so many things.