Thursday, July 21, 2011

Guinea Hen and Calf Wranglin'

It's not even noon yet as I begin this post and already we have had an impressive morning of accomplishments, beginning, of course, with the usual chores of cow-milking and poultry feeding. Oh, and Bethany annihilated all the potato bugs in the garden.

Bethany and Brendan noticed last night that one of the guineas had a feed-bag string wrapped around its foot. They chased it but could not catch the wily bird.  The next strategy was to nab it after it roosted for the night, but the guineas tuck their feet under them when they roost and  it is impossible to tell which guinea to nab. As soon as you grab one guinea, it alerts everyone to danger and all hope of capturing a guinea is lost.

This morning I found the big chicken-landing net and the Great Guinea Chase was on, around the  coop, through the barn, over the chain link fence, behind the garage, under the electric fence, through the pasture...
Finally, the guinea made the mistake of running inside the chicken coop; we shut the door and Bethany netted him.  Brendan held him down while Bethany gently clipped the string and released his foot.

Our second livestock wrangling adventure of the day involved the cows.  The objective was to get a halter on Lindyhop.  The interns have been working with the calves a bit and have put a nylon rope halter on Lindy before, but we will keep this fancy halter on him so he is easier to capture and control. After 5 days of weather so stifling hot and air so thick you could barely move, today is heavenly and the calves had a lot of pent-up energy to burn, racing laps around the pasture -- challenging to catch!
Finally we herded Lindy into the corner by the barn and Brendan corralled him with a gate.
Bethany slipped the halter over his head and adjusted it to fit.
Lindy had a lesson in leading
followed by a bit of brushing.
Then Mark, our dairy farmer neighbor arrived to help us with the real reason we had to get Lindy into the halter.  Rog and I had banded Lindy (to turn him from a bull calf into a steer) when he was a few weeks old, but it was becoming obvious that we had failed- he seemed very bullish.  Mark used a Burdizzo, a tool that castrates by crushing the cord that supplies blood to the testicles. There is no cutting and supposedly little or no pain after the procedure.  Mark tied him up tight to the gate and Brendan, Bethany and I held Lindy still against the barn wall while Mark  accomplished the task in just a couple minutes.  We are so fortunate to have dairy neighbors, willing to share their expertise with us.  And I am so relieved to now have a steer calf rather than a bull calf!

A side note about the miserable heat and humidity that has been dogging us:  The radio stated last night that 1000 cows had died from the heat, mostly in southwest and south central Minnesota. Mark said he knows of at least 10 cow mortalities on local farms and a nearby turkey farmer who lost 6000 turkeys day before yesterday.  That just breaks my heart.


Allison at Novice Life said...

What an eventful morning to say the least!

I know what you mean about the heat. They are saying it feels like 105 here in NE Ohio today with the heat index and I am worried sick about my horses while I sit here at work :/

gz said...

so your cow coolers are a good idea!