Monday, August 19, 2013

Wake up calls

This morning, I got three wake up calls. One alarm clock for Joel, who left early for a week of work. A second from a sad sounding juvenile rooster at 6am, and the next from our cows at 7am. So I got up, poured some coffee, and opened the front door so I could hear the commotion even louder. - once I was up, it quieted down...

Looks like a teen rooster, right? Or maybe me in the morning.
But really, the one I heard was real and outside.

And then sweet Noah decided to give Isaac a wake up call at 7:40am and loudly informed Isaac that it was time to wake up so that they could play. They routinely play in their room before they come out for the day.

snuggling in some clean sheets with his bear. Wartime Farm is on, of course.

First thing in the morning - doing his thing. He takes joy in putting things in all of our shoes.

I dressed him this morning. The clothes are already in the laundry hamper.

We had our figurative wake up call last night when our cows didn't go where we tried to herd them... It all happened when we tried to move them to their next paddock. I had read all sorts of good info on how to handle cows, but it is so hard to put it into practice for the first time when you're panicking (which is also a rule - don't panic.)

So here is why we had such a hard time:
1. Cows spook. And they have something called flight distance. (I think I read this in The Family Cow... good book, either way). So their response is to run a certain distance - not just until the threat is gone. The distance is determined by the perceived threat. If they are spooked by a hand motion while I'm outside their fence, they move a few feet suddenly, if they are spooked by a person trying to quickly get in front of them, it's longer, and if you add in a voice trying to "startle them" into stopping (like you would a child running for the road - and like I did) it gets longer. 
It doesn't seem like knowing this helps - but it does. Because when they get spooked, all you can do is be calm, and wait to see where they stop - because they will. And they'll probably stop to eat the grass. Then you have to quickly, widely, and calmly walk around them until you are in front and turn them around to continue... 
2. Cows don't have a good depth of vision. This is the HARDEST part in my opinion. If you are trying to get them to take a 90 degree turn into a fenced in area, you can't expect much unless you are really strategic about where you stand (not at the corner of the turn, you have to stand 5-10 feet beyond the turn because they'll try to turn away from you before they get close to you). 
So, you can imagine, if they are running up a field with lots of obstacles, they are pretty freaked out because they don't know when they need to turn away from it until they are a little too close for comfort (which looks ridiculous to us because we are thinking "why are they bouncing around like that?"). So this also impacts how easily they herd. We were trying to get them away from a building and into a fence, and that situation with the building and fence and not being able to understand how close the opening was, was making them think they were being cornered. 
3. Joel and I don't share the same brain.
4. The cows don't generally get treats.
5. They don't come to their names yet.
6. They don't easily go on halters. 
7. Norway isn't use to anyone getting closer than 5 feet to him. 
8. You have to talk calmly (can be loud, but needs to be calm) move smoothly (no jerking) and keep that cool and composed attitude that just goes with the flow. You know, roll with the punches, like so many people out there are able to do in life..
9. You only learn to get animals back into fences if they get out - so practice is hopefully minimal.
10. We didn't get the perimeter fence set up.

So while Joel calmly walked up the field to turn them around, he told me to go get the grain and I got buttercup to come to the grain. The funny part - while I'm sprinting for the grain, I see a chicken, sprinting beside me and keeping up. Good Chicken.

Norway eventually came too.. but it wasn't as easy. I will love that perimeter fence. Would be so much more peace of mind. But I do love these electric netting fences too. They do a really good job! Lets just say - the little zap you feel when your in rubber boots is quite different from the zap you feel when your barefoot. Good electric fence, gooood electric fence.

So there you have that.

Have a good day. And try not to look like that rooster in the first picture.

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