AMY KIRK: Cattle’s 6th sense comes out at worst possible timeWe recently hauled our cows to grassier pastures down at our home. The day was like none other — one in which we cavalierly believed that the job would be relatively easy to pull off.
By: Amy Kirk, The Daily Republic
We recently hauled our cows to grassier pastures down at our home. The day was like none other — one in which we cavalierly believed that the job would be relatively easy to pull off.
It should be noted that in dealing with animals, the chances of plan A, B or C being successful are about as likely as Britney Spears finding happiness, stability, contentment and true love. Regardless of the fact that the overall goal of getting our cows home was achieved, high points of any ranch job are never remembered as much as the challenges enlivened with improvisations relied on to reach the end result.
No matter how much we plan ahead, it’s necessary to figure on improvising. Within a half an hour, the start of our day’s work felt like the foretelling of a disaster of potentially grandiose magnitude.
Our cows applied their rarely used sixth sense: that of detecting trickery in which they sensed that they were being tricked into believing they were getting fed, which they were, but only after getting them in the corrals first. They’re trained to come to feed to the sound of our pickup’s horn and will do so, except when they sense our desperation that we need them to cooperate with us. With the exception of a small bunch that refused to follow at all, the herd began to trail toward the sound of the pickup’s horn to the bale bed pickup like normal. It was when we had to drive across the highway and lure them through the underpass from the other side that they shirked our attempts to bluff them or get them to go through the underpass. The underpass is never a problem until it’s mandatory that they go through it. This time it was necessary in order to get them loaded and moved home.
They also sensed our foolishness in expecting our plan to work and took advantage of the opportunity to be difficult. It’s instances such as these that we learn so much from our cows, like how not to be overconfident in expecting a plan to go accordingly and the all-important role of winging it.
We overestimated their motivation to follow the feed pickup and underestimated the possibility of needing extra horses or four-wheelers to gather them. When the cows reached the underpass they bunched up and stood in front of it except for the small bunch that wouldn’t follow the pickup at all, which became a sub-challenge. It was evident the cows weren’t in the mood to cooperate, and we had to constantly make adjustments to our plan.
The cows’ deadpan expressions while standing stockstill revealed their amusement at our efforts to get them to go through the underpass. They watched our various attempts to maintain bluffing them into order to get them into the corrals to be loaded and hauled home. We ended up pushing instead of leading them.
Being persistent, determined and passionate about what you do is how things get done and is the reason why the cows finally went through the underpass. Overall, the job was considered a success. The cows got moved home, there was minimal tension, and the day didn’t end up a disaster of Britney Spears magnitude.
Amy Kirk and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth-generation cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices. com.