Monday, October 11, 2010

The Cud is the Key

The first thing Mom and I did on our little mini 4-wheeler run was to go up to the far west pasture/hay field and check the cattle.

On the way up I had to stop to take some pictures of a gopher who was kind enough to stand up and chirp at me and pose for several minutes.

Mom came back to find me.

When we got to the gate at the top of the hill we looked out over the pasture and saw not a single cow in sight.

Which is a little odd because it isn't that big of a pasture and although it isn't flat as a pancake at the Ranch, there really isn't anywhere for 28 cows, 27 calves and 1 black angus bull to hide. They had either truly accomplished something spectacular or they had all cut and run. And that would have been a problem.

There is one hill at the far end of the pasture that that many cattle could potentially get behind so we decided to run up along the fence and head for that spot to see if that's where they all were.

We hadn't gotten that far when we looked across the pasture and saw a string of calves hot footing it out from behind the relatively small hill created by the dug out being made. They were apparently all having a drink at the same time from the water trough which is filled by a solar powered water pump. The dugouts in the two cow pastures are fenced to keep the water clean and to keep anybody from falling in and drowning.

I gotta say I never would have thought that close to 60 head of cattle could've been hiding behind that mound of dirt.

But they were indeed there.

The cows and the bull all came out from behind it as well.

They headed over towards us and we met them roughly in the middle and tried to count them to make sure nobody small had slipped through a fence somewhere.

Mom and I both got 29 adults right away. No problem.

But we both seemed to keep getting 25 calves.

The little suckers get behind their mothers, or they move or they lie down behind someone else or they are on the opposite side of there mom nursing and she is blocking them from view. We were on one side of the whole herd so Mom drove into the middle of them to see if that would make it easier to get a look around the mama cows. It didn't really help that much.

We both ended up sort of taking turns standing on the seat of Mom's 4-wheeler and counting over and over and over again. We finally got 27. We counted them up twice to make sure we weren't double counting anyone but as Mom pointed out nobody was bellering like their baby was missing so the amount of counting we'd done was probably overkill.

I took some pictures of the cows.

But I like to get a different angle on them

I like to squat down and shoot up at them. You get a nice little angle on their faces.

When I'm standing up they can be a little wary of me. They are quiet animals, except for 2 of them, but they don't know me from Adam. I keep my mouth closed or speak quietly and I try not to make any shocking moves. They generally just watch me but their on a mild sort of alert. If I were to move to fast they'd probably bolt.

But when I squat down I become a curiousity.

I squatted down with my back to the 4-wheeler that Mom was on. She watched my back in case someone got too excited.

And something really cool happens at that point.

They all take a step towards me rather than away from me. The calves come in close. One, Speckles, came in so close I touched his little nose. While I was doing that Mom said I came close to getting licked by another calf. Even the adult cows come up really close to me. If I was standing they would never dream of coming within arm's length but when I squat down like that they come right up to me.

As I was taking pictures of them I noticed that they were all starting to chew their cud and some of them were even lying down. Definitely not stressed. They have to be pretty relaxed to do that.

I'm not sure what they thought I was but apparently they decided that I wasn't a threat and thankfully the bull stayed back and away and didn't spoil it.

He's pretty quiet too but if he'd've decided to come up and check me out I can tell you that I wouldn't have been just squatting there thinking isn't this cool anymore.

But he stayed out of the picture. His photo shoot had been this morning. So I guess he was happy enough with that.

It's funny. Some cows chew with their mouth open. Guess their mamas never told them it's not polite to do that.

We should've waited and counted once the cud chewing began.

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