First I want to say, Happy Father's Day my wonderful husband and father of our two beautiful boys! Now onto the post...
Well, my mom lovingly took the boys for another "spoiling" visit in which my little boys are reminded why Grammy is so much better than Mommy or Daddy. I am not complaining as this comes in handy sometimes. When I want to clean my house for a couple of hours without being interrupted often, I suggest that the boys have a visit with one of their favorite people. Who do you think they want to see? GRAMMY. And who can't say no to my 4-year-old as he lays it on thick on where he wants to go? GRAMMY. So as you can see, it has its perks.
As a result of my boys being gone for the morning, I had the opportunity to get back into the farm work by helping Dave. As I was shoveling feed corn into 100 pound bags (which I leave for Dave to carry), I thought about how much I missed this. With our just recently turned 1-year-old, his attention span allows me to pick up the shovel before he's ready to move onto something else. So repetitious farm work, unless he's eating, is minimal for me. So, the corn is bagged and waiting in the manger for the cows. The cows spot the bags and begin their endless mooing, which is their polite way of saying, "Let me in to eat, or else!" Upon the cows entering the barn, you hear a bunch of loud racket which sounds like 10 people taking hammers to our feed panels. I turn to see all of our little calves walking through the feed panels into the manger to get the first dibs on the corn. Fortunately for them, they are still small enough to fit through the panels and they have not forgotten this. A couple have grown too big, but still try to anyway before giving up.
Now onto the fun part. Dave is going to round up the cattle and get them through the chute to pregnancy check. Now when we do this, we make it a point to get EVERY cow, calf, steer, heifer, etc. through the chute because we want them to become familiar with it and not be scared of the process. If they for some reason need medical attention or we need to breed them, then this is less stress on the animal, and well, frankly, me. I do. however, have the most stressful job in this whole process. You would think Dave does, maneuvering around 40 cattle, the new calves skittish because of the unfamiliarity of what is going on and the possibility of briefly being separated from momma. Mind you, momma is eating corn dropped in the manger and could care less about what is going on as long as the baby does not give out a bellow. But no, Dave DOESN'T.
My job is the "Chute Manager," and yes, I just assigned myself that position just a second ago, but it does have a nice ring to it. I am in charge of closing the chute around the neck of the animal so that they can't go forward or backward because their head and shoulders are just too big. This is highly stressful because if I am too early closing it, they panic and back up quickly, attempting to run over anyone in their path. This is generally Dave...sorry honey! If I am too late, they run through the chute into an outside pen, and I inevitably end up getting "THE LOOK" from Dave. **As I write this, I am reading it aloud to Dave...he questions what look I am talking about...while giving me "THE LOOK."** But don't feel sorry for me, I can give "THE LOOK" as well as I can get it.
After I close the chute around their neck (they can still move forward and backward), I then have to pull down another lever which tightens around their stomach. This helps them to stay in one place so they don't fall in the chute or hurt themselves or Dave who has to walk up behind them to draw the blood. So now they are secured and I turn into "mommy-mode." I see they just want out to eat more corn before some of the bigger beasts take more of their share, so it's my job to rub their head and tell them how pretty they are, and I explain what is going to happen. Usually the response I get is a burp and some gurgling as they chew their cud. Then onto my next job (the Chute Manager has many different roles)...I have to hold the tail. To draw blood, you take the blood from under the tail at the base. This job may be worse than rock picking. Let me give you some background knowledge...
Please note **If you are squeamish reading about number one and number two (bodily functions of cows), do not finish reading the post.**
Cows know what is going to happen. We may think they are dumb, but really they are quite cunning when it comes to these situations. They have this knack to read our minds the night before so they know they are going to be pregnancy checked. The older ones tell the younger ones what is going to happen. I did not know this...remember, it's my first time. So the cows in a form of retaliation "hold it." They eat and drink all night and all day and then hold it until they get into the chute. Upon entering and being locked in the chute, they decide to go to the bathroom...number one AND TWO. They of course do not lift up their tail like they would in the pasture or even in the barn. This is where they prove their sly demeanor. Therefore, all of their waste goes on the tail...the tail I HAVE TO HOLD. Also, it splashes in the metal chute, so not only am I holding a manure covered tail saturated with what I wish was water, but now it splashes under the crack at the bottom of the chute, spraying my legs. Even with two little boys, I have never had so much pee and poop on me as I had after pregnancy checking those cows. Needless to say, I was beyond disgusting. A hazmat crew probably would have refused to go near me. Dave was no better, and at least I didn't need to draw the blood. I did forget to open the one gate to allow the cow into the pen (to go outside). Thankfully this was the last cow and I let Dave figure out how to get the gate she was pushing on open (the gate I was supposed to have opened) as she was trapped in a 8x6 foot area...I figured this was not one of the job responsibilities of the Chute Manager.