Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Joining the Herds
Last week when we arrived we were greeted by Matilda, Isla, Geranium and Chestnut loafing around the feed bins and looking extremely pleased with themselves. Isla made sure her lovely nose got in the picture. We quickly shooed them in the pen with Mairie, which is next to the milking paddock where milking rations get served and therefore is the most exciting place to be, just to get them behind a fence again while we assessed the damage.
The garden gate was open, although most things looked untouched at the time, I later discovered quite a few little plants that were trampled to death by suspiciously cow-shaped feet. The oats and barley left to soak with cider vinegar had been broken into and were gone, they had devoured the small bit of rolled barley left and enormous cow pies littered the area we usually hang out around.
The result was that we introduced Mairie to the rest of the herd earlier than we had thought we would, since we had gotten there later than usual and didn't have time to walk out the whole fence line to find where they had escaped (we later found that it was because when Ethan moved the hay ring the night before he had left it tilted up and someone--probably Matilda--had rolled it over the strand of fencing and they all just stepped over it to get out).
It was nice, because Meathead got to be reunited with Geranium again now that he's weaned, but Mairie was not really pleased to be one of the smallest cows now (she was one of the largest at her previous home). Matilda and Geranium wasted no time in establishing their superiority, and even Isla was pushing her around. She didn't even try to vie for dominance with Chestnut, and I can't really blame her.
They only were together one day until we set up a new line for them and put them all out. We even had enough fencing wire and posts to set up a non-electrified guide lane so we just walked them all up and avoided any more scenes like when we brought Richard back. Unfortunately Mairie didn't really get the moving concept and stayed in the milking paddock with the brain trust--Butch and Meathead.
(Meathead still fails to follow the herd at all times. I'm afraid he might be retarded. Geranium had a really stressful pregnancy with him, being moved to three different farms, and it seems to have taken a toll).
We moved the boys up the next day, and they were shockingly well behaved. Mairie wasn't trained to electric fencing at her previous farm, and although we had a hot line on the top of the paddock, she's not tall enough to notice it, so she just scoffed at the electric wire and walked through it. We quickly caught her again and put her back in the old eaten-down paddock with some hay. Then we moved Butch and Meathead up, who never looked back. She has been regretting it ever since, so we set up some fencing in her paddock so we can move her out soon. Every day when we get there she stands and stares at us reproachfully.