Feeding Heifers 16 November 2016

img_0957Heifers are little more than baby-mammas. Heifers often run, kicking up their heels for no apparent reason. They will shy away from the windmill they’ve been drinking at for weeks. These will not earn ‘cow’ status until they’ve had their first calf. Somehow this triggers a more adult response to stimuli. A cow will plod along, knowing the routine from experience. Heifers though, are completely unreliable and unpredictable.

This particular morning was crisp, making coveralls and Carhartts necessary. My husband, Robert, drove his pick-up, while I pulled the hay rack, loaded with a large round bale, with my ’49 Minneapolis tractor. He opened the wire gate, laying it on the ground and drove his Chevy a little way down the trail road and parked it. He waited for me to bring the hay rack into the pasture. “Now remember, I want you to pull the hay most of the way to the img_1012windmill before you turn her around. We’ll unload going north.”

He looked up at me and I nodded. I could see the heifers way off to the south. Robert climbed onto the rack and I put my tractor back in gear.

As soon as they heard us, those girls came at a run. Some simply headed for us straight on. Others veered off kicking up their heels, leaving their big bellies to float momentarily. His whistle caught my attention and when I turned, he twirling his hand in a circle. We weren’t at the windmill yet, but I turned the tractor around to head north.

We were surrounded by heifers. They weren’t paying any attention to the hay Robert was desperately pitching off the rack. He was trying to shoo them back, but they were having none of it. Those who came first were covered in hay. They stayed right with Robert, img_3155ignoring the hay they were supposed to be busy eating from the piles on the ground. His arm jerked toward me and I put my tractor in low gear, aimed it as straight as I could and jumped off. Grabbing the side of the rack, I hauled myself up to help pitch hay.

We worked in concert, him at the back of the rack and me at the front, dragging the heavy sheets of hay to the edge and off the rack. Although he’d managed to dump large piles of hay, strung out behind us, only a few of the over one-hundred black and white faced heifers had stopped to eat. The rest were running along the side of the rack, touching the piles and then throwing their back legs in the air while their bellies hit the hay rack, like a strange game of tag.

Part two tomorrow!


About Sally Gerard

I am a writer, runner, teacher, singer, guitar player, mom, lover, coffee drinker, hunter, antique tractor driver, horsewoman, sister, and lover of the outdoors. Did I mention that I love lighthouses?
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