Today was a day off from the town job, which meant, to my husband and son, it was a good day to work some cows before we put up sweet corn. I agreed to their plans as long as we could get an early start.
At 4:40 I was awake. It was dark out so I went back to bed. At 5 am my alarm went off. It was still dark out. About 5:30 we were finally getting everything lined up to do chores and get the first group of cows up. Please note here that we have been in an extreme heat warning for much of this past week. That’s why we were adamant about starting early. Also note that this is the latest Mike and I have slept this week due to town job schedules.
Gates opened that needed opened and closed that needed closed for pasture #1. We name our pastures based on their locations. Pasture 1 today was “The West Pasture”. We headed out and quickly and easily got that entire group up with no trouble. I brought the 4-wheeler out of the pasture while the guys got the gates closed and met me at the end of the barn. This was looking to be a promising day. Let me stop right here. NEVER let such a thought cross your mind in working cattle. It’s almost as if God and the cattle laugh together at that statement.
So we headed out to pasture #2 (The North Pasture). Mike nearly dumped Chris off the side of the 4-wheeler when trying to get out of a winter rut that’s never been bladed yet. We managed to avoid that accident. Whew. But, when we got out to the creek that runs through this pasture (and much of our farm) we found a dead cow. She had laid down in a bit of a ditch and gotten where her feet were higher than her body and couldn’t get back upright. It’s frustrating to lose a cow to something like that. You have no control, no chance to prevent it or treat it. While this put a bit of a damper on the optimistic attitude, we kept on moving trying desperately to beat the heat of the day.
Chris crossed the creek and Mike and I took the 4-wheeler to the far northeast corner of our farm to gather the rest of the cows walking in the creek and staying cool in the trees. We were cruising right along and it seemed like we were going to get this pasture with no problems as well. UNTIL. UGH, I really don’t like that word here. A former show heifer who has always had a bit of a diva complex today became our until. Until Tasha decided she wanted to stay in the creek. Until Tasha decided she could climb out of the steepest part of the embankment. Until she fell back in the creek and decided she was done. Until we convinced her she was not. Until Tasha decided she would not go the same path every cow before her had gone. At this point I’m beginning to think I need the tee shirt that says, “God doesn’t judge a woman who cusses at cattle.” I know I should’ve been praying for forgiveness right about now, but it was quickly heating up and what little patience I had was disappearing. And then. Tasha decided to go a whole new route to where I
wanted needed her to go and in the process she and I seem to have disturbed a nest of hornets. Apparently,they were NOT amused. Once caught me in my backside and suddenly had my full attention. Another started swarming around my head and I believe I told the diva Tasha I was personally going to hang her on a meat hook if I got stung once more. Then two hornets teamed up on my hand and finger. NOW I was “as mad as a ……..hornet”. I now know what that means. They are some angry little critters. And hornet #4 was back and tangled in my hair. I’m pretty sure Mike was wondering if I’d finally lost my mind as I was beating my head profusely trying to kill the hornet before he could sting my head. I was pretty sure I had killed him and still had him tangled in my hair. I was now trying to carefully pick him out just in case he wasn’t fully dead. Once I got him out I threw him to the ground and stomped him just for good measure. Now I wasn’t just standing there while all this was going on. I had gotten off the 4-wheeler and was still trying to convince Tasha she should go to the house. She was lame (likely foot rot) and had busted open the back of her foot while trying the vertical bank climb earlier.
This was one of the many times I’ve been thankful our pastors don’t live nearby. They likely would have had to politely asked me to step down from any and all positions at the church and enter therapy.
I was “having a discussion” with Tasha explaining exactly what she needed to do. Did you know divas don’t take instructions well? She looked at me, looked at the gateway where she was supposed to go and then looked at the electric fence that was low enough for her to get over. I believe I warned her against such actions. I believe she laughed. Can cows laugh? I think she did as she was crossing over to the “Rotational Pasture”. I stopped everything except my mouth. She was happily munching the freshly mown hay and we still had several more cows to get up. Mike encouraged me to get moving. The rest of the herd came up without incident.
We treated the calves that had pneumonia, lameness and foot rot and kicked them back out. We drove out and got Tasha and another pair in the rotational pasture and they came right in. It was 8 am by now. We were supposed to be at Jesse & Brittany’s to put up sweet corn by then. We quickly switched gears and got moving. And spent the next 8 hours husking, cooking, cooling, cutting, bagging and freezing corn. My hand is nearly twice it’s normal size. My butt hurts. And my mother-in-law looked at me and said, “Good thing you’re not allergic.” And it is. How in the world would we have gotten everything done if I had been allergic to hornet stings?