I now know why cattle farmers never seem to particularly ‘like’ cows. It always struck me as odd that you would be engaged with an animal every day and seem to have no attachment to it. But now I get it. I don’t like cows. They are dumb and difficult.
Recently up at our practice farm a bull was dropped off. The intention being that he would breed with our milking cow so that we get a calf and milk next year. This was the thought and intention. The bull however within 10 minutes of unloading him had taken out about 6 of our fences and didn’t show any signs of stopping.
Mad as hell and thinking to act fast before he made more work for us I strung up some sheep netting to hopefully contain him. The electric fences didn’t phase him one bit. He just walked through them like they weren’t even there. And on top of it all he nursed off our cow! I wanted to send him home.
Four days later we were getting virtually no milk because our milking cow was so pissed off at the destruction of her routine and the invasion of her space. The bull was now seemingly contained with an electric wire running off the top rail of his paddock right about wet cow nose height. He’d gotten a couple shocks and seemed to stay put.
I was ready to toss in the towel. Routine had to be re-established, order must be maintained or the whole thing was going to fall apart. To top it all off we had been doing bobcat work in the area and the whole thing had been dismantled, we were hauling hoses, water buckets, hay, you name it and it was a mess. Our milking cow was stressed.
The thing with milk cows is that they like predictability. They want to know what is coming next. I think because they are slow learners. It’s stressful to do new things. Have I mentioned I don’t like cows?
To top it all off our cow is broken. Well not really broken just backwards in that she will not let down her milk for people. Only a calf, or a bull or frig probably anything that would suck on her teat. But not us. I am 5’8, 130lbs and while I may be strong for a girl I am not strong enough to wrestle a 200lb calf nor is that what I want to be doing at six in the morning. So I have tried nearly every trick in the book to get her to let down and not let a calf on her again. I had great success after about 3 milkings only to have her go back on me the milking after that. Then we switched milkers and he didn’t have any success either, he found that he was only getting chunky yellow curds from one teat and thought we were in danger of her drying up.
So now two weeks after the bull has arrived we have a moved pasture, I am still wrestling calves and chasing a bull. Thankfully last night our bull finally did his job, and I suspect he did the night before as well. Which means that he will be going home soon and my life insurance premiums will go back down.