beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

You’ve been spotted – don’t think she’s going to let you get away

Here she comes… who’s she?? It’s beatrice…

xxxxxxpet me ladyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxor I’ll butt your knees

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Come on lady, I don’t have all day – What are you waiting for??

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This weekend, I had to break down and mow some grass.  I admit it; I have developed a Scrooge-ish double hatred of mowing grass. First because now that I have cows to feed, grass = food.  Mowing grass feels like throwing food away and I have a real issue with  that.  Second because I hate wasting gas on something that could easily be performed by hand or by animal and that bugs me too. It was some green, juicy grass; the men would have happily done that job.

But alas, that field isn’t fenced and won’t be for a while, so while it pained me to do it, I had to break down and mow. But that’s not really the story.

The story is Beatrice.  Beatrice is one wacky heifer.  I thought Honey was the one who would end up knocking me on my can one day. But next to Beatrice, Honey is darn near shy.

Talk about gawky & awkward … here’s honey in all her teen-aged glory. All the calves go through a homely phase between one and two years, but my goodness. With a leggy, all elbows and knees look like this, surely she’ll be a supermodel one day…

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Honey went through a quad-chasing phase which was both funny and alarming, but she seems to have outgrown it. But even at her sassiest, Honey has a healthy respect for tractors, weed-whackers and other scary machinery. And the other “normal” calves? They stay far, far away from all that stuff.

Beatrice’s first week, she left the herd and her mom and chased the tractor all the way up the hill and to the gate after I delivered hay one morning. I had to get down and chase her away by flapping my arms, jumping around and yelling just so I could drive the tractor through the gate. And don’t think she took that without some head shaking sass.

The next unusual Beatrice encounter was when I had to take the weed-whacker and trim the grass under the electric fence. Most of the calves (and cows) are rightly fearful of me  with this scary-looking noisy gadget and keep their distance.  Not Beatrice.  She actually chased after me and wanted to get her face right into the action. Very odd.

Yesterday was the first time the calves have seen the brush hog at work. It’s noisy. And most calves think it’s scary.  Not you-know-who.

Beatrice saw that rig coming and ran right up to get a better look.  She chased me all the way along the fence line and looked really sad when I turned and drove away.  I can tell right now, pasture mowing will be a bit of a challenge with Beatrice around.

Are you talkin’ to me??

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Remember Beatrice’s kidnapping incident? I may owe Zay an apology accusing her of kidnapping and all. As unlikely as it was, Beatrice is just the sort of girl to sneak out and party all night leaving her mom crazy with worry….. sorry Zaymonster!

in which we interrupt our usual Thursday programming…

in which we interrupt our usual Thursday programming…

I sure was hoping that this morning I could wade the frozen creek in a pair of floppy, over-sized men's wellies..

This is an interruption of my planned Thursday everything. This morning, I went extra early to check on the Ladies because I am officially on baby watch. Udders are swelling and tails are switching, so something is bound to happen soon.

A mysterious full moon still out as I hit my chores this clear chilly dawn - never loses its magic for me

The full moon & perfectly clear, starry sky were so exceptional last night. This morning it was dawn when I started out so I got to enjoy the crisp, sparkling early morning lunar show again. So luminous and big, so heavily round, still and magically ripe – is it a sign?? Well, apparently not. No babies this morning. The Ladies were all still in bed looking at me with sleepy, blinking eyes.

I think I’m starting to get on their nerves – they keep looking at each other and then back at me with that “What does she want now?” look. They say the least I could do is bring snacks next time….

I admit I’m a super-vigilant fence tester. At least twice a day I check all my fences. Even I think it may be excessive, but then I find something amiss and my obsessive behavior is reinforced. I figure it’s always less work to find out before the Ladies do, or even more importantly, before the bull.

Things seem strangely still; I check the box and sure enough, battery’s dead.  Since I know it was just freshly charged, something must be shorting the fence wires. So, off  I go inspecting every piece and corner of the fence. Is a branch touching the wire? Did a deer crash through? Did the stream wash over the bottom wire?  Nope, nope and no.  I’m really hoping all is good with the part that crosses the creek because that’s a bear to mess with and I really don’t feel like wading in the frozen creek before breakfast.

Of course, as soon as I had that thought, it was guaranteed.

That’s exactly where the fence was down. Why not last week when everything was warm and sunny? Who knows, but welcome to my world.  It’s cold; I’m glad I wore the long underwear, since now I have to get the tallest pair of boots I have – a pair of over-sized  men’s wellies – and go wading. The water is just a tiny bit lower than the tops of my boots, so if I screw up at all, I’ll have a boot full of frigid water. Not a nice way to start my day. I really wish I had eaten something warm  before I came – I’m hungry and this could take a while…

Gingerly I make my way into the creek with my axe, wire cutter & insulators.  The wire is underwater and frozen into the creek, so I have to use my axe to first chop a hole for me to stand in, and then chop a path to free the wire.

Carefully I chop my way across the ice to the downed wires

I’m doing my best CSI work and I cannot decide whether the wire was pushed OUT by the cows, or IN by the deer. The area is full of frozen footprints from both cow and deer and with the wire coiled up underwater, I can’t tell which way it went.

But I have my theory.

It’s her. I’m sure of it. H.O.N.E.Y. I told you how bold she was. With her new posse, Bess and Sass. Fanny stays out of it – she’s not an adventurous sort of girl.  Their first sunny day in this new pasture, I caught them exploring the creek. As far as I can tell, these three were the first to cross over and start to explore the tiny triangle on the other side.  Who was front and center? You guessed it – Honey.

I hustle the girls back over - Bess & Sass trot right back; Honey takes her sweet time

Honey giving the new fence job some serious contemplation. She's got a plan, I'm sure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Needless to say, that small part of fencing was not my best work and I immediately got my tools and re-worked it so they aren’t able to cross the creek.

Honey was not pleased and I’ve seen her giving the new fence job some very serious consideration. A few days ago, during evening bed check, I could hear the tell-tale popping sound of electric wire touching metal. Sure enough, it was my new wire crossing the creek. Someone twisted the wire so it was touching the metal fencepost. I must not have missed the event by long since the battery hadn’t been drained. Honey, Bess & Sass were innocently grazing nearby, pretending to take no notice of me.

Honey hiding behind her Mom? Puh-lease. Honey doesn't have a shy bone in her body.

Of course I’ll never know for sure. The fence is fixed, I’m cold but dry and I hope the culprit got a good hefty shock so she’ll think twice the next time.

And now, back to our regular programming….

in which we hear it for the boys

in which we hear it for the boys

Tight little buddies from the beginning. Cow friendships are the lasting kind...

I know, I’ve been called on it before, and I admit it is true.  The Ladies get most of the press around here. Not fair and for no good reason, except that they got here first and took over.  And they look better in most of the pictures.  And they do silly comment-worthy things more often.

But now, the boys outnumber the girls. Not by much, and not for long, but today it’s true.

A few things about the boys are not exactly what I was expecting. The tussling, humping and general roughness is exactly what I thought bulls and steer would be like, but the politeness, loyalty and friendship was a bit of a surprise.

 

They are very social and enjoy each others company. I have a loner or two, but even they have their special close friends.  And Rocco, the bull, is Chairman of every pack. Rocco likes to spread himself around.

The intense gaze of Rocco - he doesn't miss anything...

This week, we have finally completely separated the boys from the girls. So, front pasture has all the ladies and the back pasture is home to all the steer and Rocco.

I hate to cloud their moment in the spotlight by mentioning this, but without the Ladies to show those boys where to go next, they’re a bit slow to find dinner. And to know when it’s time to come in out of the snow.

Found the hay, but forgot to go back inside to bed. All boy camp-out by the bale...

I put out three big bales of hay with plenty of space between so everyone would have a fair chance and plenty of room. You’d think they’d be happy to separate since there aren’t  enough places for everyone at one bale, but no.

Rather than strike out on their own, the littler guys have been watching Rocco and his top  henchmen do all the eating, politely waiting for their turn.  But politeness doesn’t buy much in the world of cows – once the big boys had their fill, they decided they weren’t risking their booty by going inside to bed.  They plopped down right there, at the foot of the bale for their naps, blocking the timid little fellas out.

Wearing their hay hats....

The Ladies would have split right up and made quick work of  all three bales.

So, today, I took pity on the gentle-men and led them to the other bales. They had been waiting for someone to take charge – I didn’t have to call twice.  Like the Pied Piper, I lead my parade of curly coated steer. And, let me tell you, they were pretty excited about their all you can eat buffet.

Can't explain it, but cows are big on single file...

Boys.

in which one of these cows is not like the others

in which one of these cows is not like the others

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our funny, sassy Miss Honey. At the time, she was about as spunky a heifer as I’d met.  But, as often happens when you start measuring things and attaching labels, something new comes along to prove you’re all wrong.

One of these cows is not like the others

This young heifer, part of the neighbor’s handsome Angus herd, decided she was ready to take on the world by herself. She had big dreams and was ready to head out for the bright lights and big city.

One of these cows just doesn’t belong

Well, reality was a bit scarier than expected and this little lady decided she’d had enough roughing it on her own.  But, by the time she found her way back home, her family had gone; moved back to their winter address. So, she opted for Plan B and decided to join the Ladies.

Can you tell which cow is not like the others

The Ladies are kind in their way, but they aren’t too charitable to give this strange hornless heifer the Cinderella treatment.

She’s not quite so Sassy these days, but she’s far from beaten.

Miss Sassy thinking I can't see her....

Remember Sesame Street? Photo captions are adapted from One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others), words and music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone. I dare you not to hum it  all day…

in which our Honey packs a punch

in which our Honey packs a punch

Our funny Honey - a tiny rocket of head shakin' sassiness. Not ladylike to clean your nose with your tongue in public you say? Honey couldn't care less what you think of her rowdy and uncivilized ways. She couldn't be happier with her grubby tomboy self.

It’s only recently that I have been lucky to count cows among my circle of acquaintances.  One of the things I really wanted to know was what kind of emotional life they honestly have.

And, if you’ve been following this blog, I hope I have convinced you that cows do have an inner life. They form and sustain friendships, they play, they enjoy learning new things, appreciate novelty, harbor resentments and remember unpleasantness.

Cows definitely know their favorite people and without question show affection and extend friendship. Many eyes are watching me all the time as I go about my routine.  Of course, the fact that I am the source of any and all handouts makes me more attractive in my cows’ eyes too.

Honey & Rose. Two peas in a pod, both sassy and funny, but while Rose is more sugar than spice, Honey is red-hot.

Cows take immense pleasure in simple joys like a sunny fall day, plentiful spring grass, personal space, apples on the trees and a good, hard back scratch. And they obviously suffer anxiety, stress and depression when these pleasures are lacking.

Cows are also repetitive and predictable which is both a help and an annoyance. It’s an asset because they’re easily trainable, but oh my, can they try your last nerve when their rigidity jams up important farming business.  Especially when you’re in a hurry.

We’re now on our third crop of calves and this year, for the first time, some of the steer are indistinguishable in both appearance and behavior.  I have to admit I’m not completely sure which steer belongs to what cow.

Rose & Honey - see why I call Honey a munchkin? That's OK; Honey is huge with confidence

Of course, every year one calf or another is a standout.  Bling was a real character from day one and continues to crack me up nearly every day.  Sally’s daughter Saralee is a perky, sweet and funny girl too.  Our bull Rocco is personality packed and seems to have passed a certain liveliness on to all his calves.  Ruby’s girl Rose is perky and pretty and has a really endearing way about her.  Same for Sally’s Sammy – unusually cuddly and sweet.  But oh, my; that Honey!

Honey was a pistol from Day One.  She was born late, so she was really a munchkin compared to her pasture mates.  Today, I’m not sure if she really is tiny or if it’s just by comparison to the others who are all older and similar in size.

No matter, being youngest and tiniest doesn’t slow Honey down one bit.  She’s a mighty mite; clever, bold and bursting with head-shaking sassiness.  Most calves are cautious and tentative to attempt new things. Not Honey; she jumps in first and with all four hooves. Honey figures things out lightening fast and is front and center for any new game or activity. Often it’s Honey leading the big girls instead of the other way around.

Honey leads the daily quad inspection...

New straw in the shed? Honey knows all about it.  New mineral block? Honey’s licked it.  New bale of hay? Honey’s already got her head stuck in it.  If there’s a tussle going on, Honey’s in the middle of it or at least running around the edges shaking her head and throwing in the last kick when nobody’s looking.

The other calves don’t want to play? Honey’s not taking no for an answer. She gives a few good head butts to her napping friend until it’s clear that nap is not going to happen. Slowly, they get up and give her a chase half-hearted though it may be.

But, her funniest game is one that I’ll probably never be able to get on film.    I use a quad to do lots of my daily pasture chores, and the cows are all taken with it for some reason.  But Honey’s taken her interest one step further; Honey is a world-class quad chaser.   She’ll literally run right beside me, flatten out and stretch her stride like a Thoroughbred; neck and neck. She actually looks me straight in the eye and sometimes she tries to cut in front to block me.

She’s not the first to think up the idea, but she has taken the sport to new heights. She’s sumpin’…

What are you lookin' at?