June 2009

     Lately the ladies have been relying on me for their sweet feed and water lately. . . And it’s been hot!      Summer has definitely arrived to North Carolina.   Okay I know that not all the cattle we have are ladies, don’t go getting highly technical on me.  Its just so much easier to say.   (Have I said that before?)    Anyway, back to the heat….


      So how have we been dealing with it?  Well, DH has been traveling for the passed two weeks.  He has made it home on the weekends, but during the week he’s been gone to either Puerto Rico or Virginia.  he says it’s been business! ! ! Oh, yeah, sure . . . and none of your clients had bikinis on did thy, DH?  ha, ha.  I must say that there were two other men with him in ‘Rico and the neighbor next door was with him in VA.    There were also at least one wife for each trip, too!   So he’s enjoyed the past few weeks rest in conferences and meetings. . . He’ll just have to wait to get back on that tractor! 

     And while he was away at the Bacardi factory learning how to enjoy a Mojito, I took care of his ladies  Before work I’d feed the girls and make sure they had plenty of water.  Sometimes I’d run the hose over one of them to help cool them.  It would also alleviate the flies for a little while at least!    And after work I’d  wait a bit until it was cooler than 95 to feed them again and refresh their water.   That is actually more for me and the water bins than the animals.   I’m no scientist, but if the sun is up the water in the bins should stay cooler if water is added as the temperatures are dropping.  j0336513

     It’s funny, but some of them like to drink water right from the hose as it’s pouring out into the bin.  It must be more refreshing than standing water.   So maybe it cools them off better.  Anyway, I figure they enjoy it and it doesn’t hurt them, so I just stand there and watch and talk to them.   My buddy Q is usually the first over to slurp from the rubber spout I hold.  He is just a hoot!     I know I don’t really look like that.  But round is a shape isn’t it?  LOL!j0297018

     There are several trees out int he back pasture that they use as shelter while the almost constant breeze is blowing.  It is so good to have that.  if we didn’t it would almost be unbearable for them (especially since all but one of them is black, Brown Sugar is the exception).   And there is a small shed. . . 

Do you remember this earlier in my posting?  The poor pathetic thing. . . It looked like an abandoned puppy. . . it needed some love. . . img_0846                                 img_0847

    So, DH made improvements to the little guy.  He removed all the corrugated siding and replaced it with wood.  Mind you it’s not the Ritz-Carlton, but it looks like a nicer place for a tired hot heifer to lay her head when she wants to get away from it all for a while. . .   Of course the extra lumber and tools have been removed.  It looks like there is plenty of air circulation.  I don’t think they all fit right now.  But since this pen is to be our nursery and weaning pen, there should be plenty of room for a few of them as we need it for that. 


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    Not bad, huh?  Well, we’ve had no complaints yet!  Now, please excuse me while I sip Mojitos in my air conditioned home. . . It’s been a heck of a two weeks here at Smiling J!   I need to cool off!           j0283690

     Before I get into the story I have to say that the title is in honor of my Mother.   Since my Father was Chilean and she had spent several years working there when she was single, she learned the language.  Anyway, once in a while she would ask that question of us children.  “Quien manda aqui?”  She wanted to make sure we knew that she was in charge ! ! ! !  Sometimes we would tease her and say “Dad”, but we all knew who was in charge at our house!      

     With cattle it’s a bit different.  They determine it just as any animals in the world.   He who can win a fight for it is in charge!  Here is what we are experiencing on our farm these days. . . .

    Do you remember we sent Angie off for a blind date?  Well, when she left, the others decided to change the herd dynamic.  Since she was the head of the herd, someone else was ready to step up and be in charge.  I’m sure she was very concerned about her herd.  They called her as she and DH drove away.  I can imagine them saying, “Hey where do you think you’re going?” or Hey, Ang, can I have your spot in the run-in shed?”    Animals do have their preferences and dislikes, you know. 

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So now Angie was gone for what would be two weeks.  But cows can’t tell time.  So, who would now lead them around the pasture? Tell them, “Let’s go over here and see if new grass is growing in my favorite spot.”  or “Hey,  it’s getting a bit warm now lets find the shade of that tree over there.”  And who would be the first to notice something new in the field and investigate?  I don’t remember seeing any pushing and shoving for that position.  Could it be that it was already decided?   Belle (Mama) is still nursing baby, so she’s not in the running.   I dont’ think Gretchen even thought about it, but how much do cattle think really? 

Among the males (steers), there is a pecking order.  You see that was decided in December when on-Q and Jack met for the first time.  Isn’t Q cute?  He has such a nice straight back, we wish he wasn’t a steer. . . We think he’d throw great calves.    Anywayhowever it was decided, our buddy, Q takes charge in Angie’s absence.  Mother Nature is amazing. . . 


It was VERY interesting to see what happened after she returned to the herd.  It was more than just a good sniff to see where she might have been or eaten.  she and Q have been having it out since!  She wants her role back and he doesn’t want to relinquish it!

     Since she came back, Angie and Q have been having a feud.  They stick their heads down and face each other.  Q usually bellows or growls ( seriously it sounds very bear like!).   He paws the ground like he wants to charge.  Then. . . then they both push as hard as they can at each other.  And they push, and push. . .





 Now I don’t know about you, but doesn’t Angie look biggger than Q?  he must not get it. . . Is it a testosterone thing?     

     Any way, they push and push until either he gets tired or one of them gives way even just a little. . . Then the one with the upper hand chases the other.                It just  doesnt’ seem fair.  And it isn’t each to watch poor Q get pushed around so easily by her.                    

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Why do men put themselves into situations like that?  Its sad isnt’ it?  He wants so hard to be in charge but she won’t let him.   But this has gone on for weeks.    What is a good steer to do, but keep trying!  Maybe he’ll get luck y and she will end up expecting.  Then he’ll be in charge.  Oh yeah, by then we will have weaned Southern Belle from baby and then the fun will start again!

Did you know that Ben Hur was on yesterday?  My all time favorite movie.  I know I shouldn’t have been watching it.  I had spent a few hours working in the herb/veggie garden and felt I deserved a break.  So here I was enthralled once again by the famous chariot race scene.   (And just who doesn’t like a good chariot race. . . you have to admit, no one, but no one drives a chariot like Chuck Heston!!!)   

  chariot race 1                          chariot race 2

And I just have to bring this up. galley slave Who can deny that no one can flag down a rescue boat like him dresses as a galley slave either!     Oh Chuck . . . That loin cloth does you justice!  My my. . . have mercy . . . 

Oh,  whew, I’m sorry, where was I ?  Oh . . .  so in between the grinding of chariot wheels I hear some sort of noise that is not normal.  The dogs heard it too and began woofing. . .   The next time I heard it, I stepped out on to the back porch and hear DH calling me.  He sounded very unhappy and was yelling at the cattle for some reason. 

Just to let you know there is a space between the two pastures which is fenced all around and has 4 gates.  This is sort of a “shute” through which they travel.  I beleive you can see it best in this post https://maryooch.wordpress.com/2009/05/19/cattle-drive-small-farm-style/.   We don’t like to allow the ladies or steers to stay in this area long because there are trees which may be harmful to them if they eat too many leaves.   We are still identifying some of them, but we know that the choke cherry leaves can have a certain amount of arsenic in them. 

Okay now you know a bit more about our farm. Back to the scene:  So I stepped out to the yard in my sports bra, crocs and what we used to call clamdiggers (I am not sure they can really be called capris if they are mid calf, can they?).  Anyway, I was not dressed to be cattle wrangling, but that is what I ended up doing.   I wish I could have taken pictures, but I was too busy figuring out how to “herd” a heifer, Brown Sugar, and a steer, On-Q, away from the choke cherry trees and the grapes that grow around them.   These two acted as though they were 8 year olds who had broken into a candy shop.  They kicked up their heels and quickly grabbed at the leaves they could.  then they tried to hide amount the hanging vines of the grapes so it wasn’t easy to reach them. 

I told DH that he should try to get a halter on Q and see if he could leave him into the front pasture.  So after chasing them this way and that, it was just that easy to get Q with a molasses treat and a halter.   Once he was back in the pasture, the rest of them called to Sugar.   So I wondered if she would wander back in by herself if we let her.   I stood at the gate with it barely ajar (so no one else would escape!) and she slowly made her way over to me.  As she got close I opened it wider, while all her friends watched!    I’m out of here!  

I had to get back to see Chuck Heston as Judah Ben Hur!  Have mercy . . .