We've had some beautiful days for this to be December, so it was time to take advantage of the warm temperatures and work some calves. Last year we lost several during the cold spells and so we're trying to get a jump on the vaccination program to help the cattle go into winter in better health. I like working with cattle; they're a lot like people in the respect that each one has its own personality. Some cows are always the first ones to meet us when we take hay to them, while others hang back and wait patiently. A good threatening stick is almost necessary to have when taking the net off the hay bales. One cow has her own threat: big pointed horns, and she's always nudging on the hay bale before we can get the truck into neutral and set the brake.
Our cattle are scattered here and there, as are most all cattle in our community. Our acreage doesn't all join so we have to take hay to five places every day. Most of these old farms were covered in cotton in the thirties, and when the boll weevil put a stop to that crop, men terraced the hills and put out peach orchards. Around the beginning of the sixties, those orchards began disappearing and poultry houses were being built on places where nothing could be grown. Now the poultry industry is the lifeline of this county and the old farms benefit from the litter spread on them for fertilizer.
Good catching pens make it so much easier to get the cattle caught for sorting and working.
Inside the barn we have an alley set up to run the calves through and then they are caught in the head gate. I help sort and then catch them, keep records, and have the ear tags ready. Some calves walk calmly down the alley and others make a dash for the opening, stop suddenly when they seem to realize what's going on, and then try to bolt through. I have to stand ready to pull that lever quickly in order to catch them, and occasionally one gets through, but really, I'm pretty good at it. Even the vet bragged on me one time. lol