Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Quickly, Ever Changing World of Agriculture

We rotated cows onto fresh pasture last week. It is sure more fun this year than last year. I feel incredibly blessed to have gotten the rainfall and the subsequent grass production. It is so much more fun to go out and see the cows belly deep or deeper in grass. Checking cows has once again become one of my favorite things to do.
Last year it was not nearly as much fun. The grass did not grow or stay ahead of the cows like we had hoped and planned on. Water had started to become an issue and to top it off the bull at my place did not want to stay home. Checking cows had gone from being one of my favorite things to do, to something I started to dread.
This year things are dramatically different. We are behind in rotating cows but it is because they are not putting a dent in it before it is time to move to the next pasture. The cows are sleek and fat and their calves are growing rapidly. To top it off, literally, the ponds are full and the creeks are running. That leaves only making sure the bull is home as the only stress this year.
This brings me rotating the cows last week. Jennifer and I pulled into the pasture with the idea of checking the herd and even moving the afore mentioned bovines if everything worked out perfectly. First things first, we needed to find the bull. Oh, to add to the drama we saw a lone, black bull making his way across the neighbor’s pasture. This put our bull radar on high alert.
 A quick run through the herd revealed all the cows, all the calves and no bull. Thinking that maybe we had just missed him among the mass of moving beef, we retraced our steps again. The second and third time through came with the same results, bull 77X was nowhere to be found. Our thoughts of moving cows and getting things done now seemed like a pipe dream and we started to think about the distasteful task of separating and returning the misplaced bovine.
The neighbor’s cows could be seen on a distant hill and we decided that I would make a scouting trip on foot to look the situation over. Jennifer decided that she would continue the search while waiting to hear from me. I departed the pickup, grumbling about the bull and wondering if his future was quarter pounders, hotdogs or jerky. Jennifer dropped me off near the fence and started back toward the herd.
I began to cross the fence and at the most critical point in that maneuver I noticed a set of ears sticking up above the grass just fifty yards away. I quickly and carefully reversed direction and made my way to the ears. Sure enough bull 77X was lying in the bottom of the terrace channel, eyes half closed, chewing his cud. He seemed blissfully unaware that a search was being conducted and future plans were being made for him.
My concerns quickly changed from finding a retrieving the bull to figuring out what might be wrong with him. Was he crippled or maybe sick? All of these thoughts crowded into my head, I really did not want to have to buy another bull at this point in the pasture season. We had had rotten luck with bulls this breeding season and this was just going to add to the misery.
However, as I approached said bull, he stood up, stretched and began to amble over to the herd, which was about seventy-five yards away. He looked back at me with a mixture of boredom, skepticism and disdain. Clearly he did not share my concern and worry about his health and well-being, instead he seemed almost grumpy about having his alone time and nap disturbed.
In the meantime, Jennifer started back to me with the pickup and the cows started to follow her. Sensing that this might be the opportunity we had been seeking to move the cows, she reversed her course and headed for the gate. Out the gate Jennifer went, a well trained herd of cows eager to be rotated to fresh grass in tow and the bull and I bringing up the rear.
In just a few minutes our evening had went from hopeful, to fearful, and finally to productive. I am happy to report that this story has a happy ending with cows on new lush pasture, a healthy bull in the right place and a mission accomplished. It is amazing just how fast things change in the wonderful world of beef production.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the article, Glenn! I'm glad farm business is going well! I specialize in wheat growing and have a little bit different problems but I can understand you well. By the way, my good helper is - probably you or your farmer-friends would find something useful for yourself. Good luck!