On a cattle drive

I dreamt last night I was on a cattle drive.  That could have been because in addition to frogs and night birds, I listed to cows mooing all night.  The poor things, they are missing their mothers.  I hate the weaning process, but I guess it’s necessary to keep the mother cows in good condition.

Loading the calves yesterday was quite intense.  We dealt with cow/calf pairs.  Gel handled himself well.  The mother cows were not horribly aggressive, but they did go after him quite a few times.  He dodged their charges then came back in.  He could use some of the aggression from the dogs that are owned by the man who has the cattle (Mark).  Once we got the calves loaded, the mother cows tried to follow us out the gate.  I was outside of the truck manning the gate.  Gel and Fern were both with me.  It was scary, those mother cows were going to go through the gate, if it were not for Mark’s dogs.  He gave them a command, or maybe just said their names, and they charged in amongst the cattle and pushed them back so I could shut the gate.  Good dogs!

Gel is not afraid of cattle.  He got kicked a couple of times yesterday, but he went right back in there.  When we got all of the cattle in the pen, he insisted on holding the gate to keep them in.  I think he just doesn’t understand how to bite and to bite hard.  He’s too kind to stock, which isn’t a bad thing.

Fern is in training to be a cattle dog.  She’s not afraid of the calves and continues to insist on coming in with them.  I just bought some nice cable tie-outs and I will be installing them on the fence line this morning.  She doesn’t need to be in with calves.

It rained most of the day yesterday, slow, steady rain, the best kind.  Of course, rain and cows make for a thick, nasty, muddy, mess.  Those muck boots are worth their weight and gold, and then some!  I was covered in mud and other stuff when I got out of there.  Then when we off-loaded the calves, they kicked up mud, and other stuff, and hit me in the face!  Mark thought that was pretty funny, I guess it was!

I’m becoming a cow girl!  Ha!

I think we may have bit off more than we can chew in taking in un-dog-broke calves.  Sort of like what we did a few years ago when I bought four St. Croix lambs, un-dog-broke as well.  That was a nightmare!  I ended up selling them, then bought four supposedly dog-broke ewes, only to realize I brought home killer ewes, but that’s a story for another day.  I’m not going to judge too much right now because I know the calves are stressed right now, but if Gel isn’t going to grip appropriately, they are not going to learn to respect him enough to move off him.  He bites, but he bites and flips, which is completely ineffective.

I’m going to Virginia for a cattle lesson on Friday and then again on Sunday.  Hopefully between the two men, I can get help on getting Gel to go in straight and bite.  I recognize that a proper grip is usually not taught, but I think it’s there in Gel, we just need to get it out.

I got some bad news Friday night.  Even though I mailed my entries to the ASCA trial the beginning of May on April 1 (the opening date), the envelope was post-marked April 2.  The show secretary said that I may not get the cattle runs I signed up for.  I wrote her back telling her if I didn’t get my cattle runs, then I’d pull all my entries because cattle runs were all I needed.  I got another e-mail from her on Saturday telling me that they were going to add cattle runs so hopefully I’d get in.  If not, then so be it.  There’s another ASCA trial in Maryland a few weeks later, but I don’t think I’m willing to drive six hours for an ASCA trial.  If we have to, then I’ll finish his WTCH in the fall.  It wouldn’t hurt us to spend more time working cattle so that the next time we trial on cattle, we can get high scores like we do on sheep and ducks.

We’ll see.  I’m still on the fence on working cattle.