Posted by: chlost | May 25, 2012

What you do for love

Merle loves cows.

Not dairy cows. He loves beef cattle.

We are the proud owners of 5 head of cattle. There are four all-black Angus and one red-and-white Hereford in our little herd.

Hereford Calf
Image from Wikipedia


Angus cattle
Image from Wikipedia

All of them are females. Two of the Angus are the mothers of the two younger Angus. We bought the Hereford at an auction at a ranch in  Oklahoma last fall.

The two young Angus and the Hereford are heifers-they have never given birth to a calf. The two older Angus are cows, because they have already given birth.

It is now time for the two Angus cows and the Hereford heifer to become pregnant. Cattle are pregnant for about the same time as humans. So, new calves would be born in March if they become pregnant in June.

Merle has worked with beef cattle for many years. He has managed a very well-known herd for over 20 years. But this is the first time that he is managing his own herd. He is having a grand time. He has the opportunity to do things his own way.

He doesn’t want to do things in the “standard” way. No, we are on the cutting edge here.

When the three new calves are born next June, if all goes as planned, all three little calves will be pure-bred Herefords. That means that a pure-bred all black Angus cow will give birth to a red and white purebred calf. The Hereford will also give birth to a purebred Hereford calf.

Merle also purchased frozen embryos at the cattle auction. These were started and then frozen after 7 days of development.

Next June, we should have a herd of four all black Angus and four red and white Herefords. I am not sure what his plan is from there.

But I am now a part-time farmer.

In order to get the animals ready for an embryo, there is a procedure which requires shots and a regimen of hormones. This requires the cattle to be moved into a chute so that they can be handled safely-for both the cattle and the person.

This is close to what the chute looks like that we use.
Photo from Wikipedia

Herding cattle who are loose in a farmyard and forcing them into a narrow, single-file chute is a tricky business. I have done it in the past, when I was young, quick and nimble. Merle can’t do it all by himself. He needs a good assistant. He’s stuck with me.

I am no longer young, definitely not nimble and would never be described as quick. I have bad knees. I am out of shape.

But I am a part-time farmer, right? And I am a wife. You do things for the one you love. Even this. So that is what I do-twice now.

Over the past few days, we have received 5 inches of rain. Picture a dirt farmyard where cows have been living for many years. Now add 5 inches of rain, five 1000 pound four-legged animals who are not potty-trained.

Now picture me-the old, slow, crippled up lady-trying to assist Merle in convincing these large uncooperative animals that they really do want to be in a small, narrow space where they know that they will be stuck with a needle.

Not a pretty picture.

When doing this, you must wave your arms, yell at them, move toward them quickly to make them move away from you. It is often necessary to change direction quickly to cut them off from their attempted escape. In soft, squishy “mud” about four inches deep.

I tripped.

I tipped.

It happened in slow motion, and I prepared myself. I yelled at Merle. The ground was coming toward me as I stumbled and struggled to bring my feet under control.

Somehow I caught myself at the last moment and did not land face down in said dirt, rain water and sh*t mixture. I have no idea what saved me.

The things we do for our spouses.

But those newborn calves are going to be sooooo cute!

And Merle will be very happy.



  1. My advice, even though you didn’t ask me, is get a border collie before you kill yourself. Just sayin’

    • OOOhhh, I’d love a border collie! But it wouldn’t do well in our lazy family. I think I am just going to stay away from chores from now on!

  2. I love calves. I don’t miss trying to herd animals, though.

    • Those newborn calves are darling. Even the bigger cows can be sweet. But just their size makes them challenging. I am surprised at how many people have had farm experiences in their past.

  3. I know about horses, but I know squat about cows. Temple Grandin might be a good source for how to move them around, though. I can see that age might be a factor in that process.

    • Funny you should mention Temple Grandin. Husband has read her stuff, seen the movie, and says that he thinks it is great stuff. But then he is an “old school” sort when it comes to actually doing things. How do you move horses out of a pasture if they need to be handled? Do all of yours come to a whistle or for food?

      • They usually come when called, but sometimes develop “grass deafness” when things are green and growing.

  4. You just reminded me that my days with livestock are over!!! I applaud your courageous efforts!!!

    • It is interesting that so many people have had farm experiences in their past. Did you grow up on a farm? I am certainly not courageous…stupid is more like it!

      • My maternal grandparents and all four of their sons (my uncs) were/are dairy farmers in Wisconsin and my great-grandpa on my dad’s side also farmed so I had a lot time around farms. The Carnation truck picked up the milk every morning and I can tell you that not all of their milk was from ‘contented cows’ as their ads touted. I know that some were just plain damn mean. LOL

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