Ice – Rain – Mud and Muck in Those Learning Years

I can hardly wait until we get the new pastures fenced off... and the truckloads of rock brought in.

I can hardly wait until we get the new pastures fenced off… and the truckloads of rock brought in.

This winter season has been everything I had imagined for this ‘ temporary ‘ set-up we prepared – for getting us through until we construct the other pasture areas.  However ( and as I feared ) – it seems Dwayne did not absorb those same visions – nor anything coming close.

Patty and Artist having breakfast, during Artist's very first experience with snow.

Patty and Artist having breakfast, during Artist’s very first experience with snow.

And I remind him – The first years are the learning years.

Dwayne has his ag experience fenced within more of the mechanical spectrum.  I’m the one that took time in the ‘ Land of Hooves and Hide. ‘  And mud.

To this day – I cringe every time I see one of those advertisements for mud facials.

They bring back the face of a particular steer with a creepy-crawly shiver – like the one most normal girls feel when they see Chucky the Doll peep around a corner in the movie.

I can still see that beast slowly turning his head back to me with a look on his face just mocking with, “ What’s YOUR problem? “ – never bothering to come back and rescue me from my face-flop into the mud after it sucked my feet out of my waders.

Glass half-full... Free Fertilizer.

Glass half-full… Free Fertilizer.

We’re dealing with the mud.  We’re hanging in there.  Although – I do have to admit it is not quite as bad as what we’ve seen other folks facing.

And I have to say – I am amazed by how patient and amicable every one of our wonderful Irish Dexters have behaved.  It’s awesome.  It’s like having smart puppies.

In reality - Artist playing with his nose ring.  He's very proud of his talents.

In reality – Artist playing with his nose ring. He’s very proud of his talents.

Just big puppies.  Really big.  And really furry – right now.  Which means they’re really dirty – right now.  We don’t give baths in winter.  We let them decide whether – or not – they wanna step out into the cold rains for a bath.

But we do brush everybody but the 2 Cows when we get a chance.  Both are still refusing to allow anyone to touch them.

Patty and Cora were used to having only trees for shelter before they came here.  Patty now shares a temporary shelter with Artist.  Cora comes into the barn alley with Bruce.

Bruce and Artist never had issues with the tin roof.  However – they were born inside a barn with a tin roof.  And if you have never been inside one when a storm comes through – the noise can be unreal.  But you get used to it.

Already – I knew that getting used to coming inside a constructed shelter would be one more issue for the 2 Cows.  And the noise above them from the storms would be butting up with that issue – which would only need time.  The one thing I was not sure of – my husband.

The manure piles come – but they spread wide rather than high – whenever a cow gets nervous. And I just wasn’t so sure he was aware of the mess that would be created – until the Cows acclimated themselves.

We began buying bags of Alfalfa cubes.  Everybody around here knows them as, ‘Cookies.’  And they’re a treat that also provides a wonderful loose stool aide called – Fiber!  But don’t tell the cows.  Because – they are just having way too much fun with ‘em!

God bless Alfalfa.

Using these cubes for training and a few other reasons is a true sanity saver.  Well – until you deal with a bag of really – really – compressed alfalfa.  But then – if you ever need to shed some vicious frustration – just grab a hammer and some tough alfalfa cubes.  And if they break down into total loose alfalfa – rather than ¼” pieces – just throw the loose stuff into their next feeding!

Trust me.

We’ve had days where we’ve had to leave our Littles in the 2 stalls – while the Bigs got to choose in or out whenever they wanted – unless we had freezing winds blowing into the barn.  Dwayne and I carry one of the 35 gallon water troughs inside the barn and close Cora and Bruce inside the barn.

Cora on 1-21-2013.  She's due around 4-23-2013 with her second calf.

Cora on 1-21-2013. She’s due around 4-23-2013 with her second calf.

Up until yesterday evening – there have been times when tricks have had to be played – just to get Cora into the barn whenever it’s been necessary to close the door for the night.  I’ve even had to sneak through the gate to get to the barn door – and hope she had wandered to the far end of the alley.

But I multi-tasked situations here – times 2 – at our house over this last round of days off.

My husband received a phone call from Texas this past Wednesday – informing him that his father had passed away.

We had an ice storm coming within hours.  We were out of hay – and had just returned home from where we’d found the source to purchase after making arrangements to pick up before the storm.  The relationship between Dwayne and his father has been estranged – for years now.  He decided not to go to the funeral.  He did not want to take any chances with me having Spondylolisthesis.  There is no way I could go after hay – much less – get it loaded up in the hay loft by myself.

We have no help here.

But when it is your father – grief comes.  There’s just no way to avoid that.  For one reason or the other – you’re going to meet that moment when the dam breaks.  And it did – Friday afternoon – just as we were putting on our waders and coats to go out and prep for evening feeding.

Everything just had to take a back seat for a bit.  We all needed to let Dwayne unload – cows included.  My husband needed to be consoled and comforted.  And things have moved along since – according to a pace more convenient for him.

Cora has had issues with Dwayne.  And we do not know why.  For whatever reason – she just flat refused to go inside the barn if Dwayne was anywhere beyond the back porch of our home.  She’d bolt out of the barn if he came inside.  She accepted alfalfa cubes from him for a very short time.  But then – she just stopped and refused to stand near him.

And I knew it hurt his feelings.  You could tell by his reaction – and by his tone of voice when he says anything about it.  These cows have stolen his heart!  I know how it feels to be good to any animal – and go out of your way with special care for them because you care so much for them – only to be rejected.

Two-legged or Four-legged makes no difference.  Hehhh…

I decided to put my husband through some training over this past round of days off – hoping for good results that would offer additional comfort that he needed at this time.

Moving the feed bunker for Bruce and Cora to the little yard before the ice storm hit only created a problem with a shield of ice developing on Saturday.  I knew their evening ration would only stick to the ice and cause problems. So we broke off all the ice we could – then moved the bunker inside and to the far end of the barn alley.

Dwayne headed over to Artist and Patty’s shelter and handed out their evening ration.  By the time he came back to the barn – Bruce and Cora were at the far end of the barn alley and eating their evening ration.  I had Dwayne handle spreading the flakes of hay against the barn wall as is routinely done for Bruce and Cora.

We do not let our cows eat wet hay – whenever we can avoid that.

Cora took notice.  With some soft – low tone reassurance from me – she seemed to be okay with that.  She continued eating with no problem.

Once Dwayne finished setting up their hay – I handed him flakes for April and told him to just make his way slowly and methodically – without saying a word.  Everything went fine.  He was able to set up hay for Killian afterward.  He even stood in the barn alley with us while the cows and I went through our usual routine of everybody getting 5 cookies after supper!

Come yesterday morning – I let Cora and Bruce out of the barn while I set up feed rations.  And then I had Dwayne carry their ration and drag their feeder bunker out to their paddock.

Cora balked at first.  But I walked out to the middle of the little yard to reassure her.  Dwayne showed her the feed bucket.  With a little coaxing before telling Dwayne to head on out to their paddock – Cora looked at me – then looked at Dwayne – then looked back at me before following Dwayne out to the paddock.

Come yesterday evening – Dwayne and I headed out to prep stalls and the alley after allowing the barn to air out and before dishing out evening rations.  Dwayne was dropping bales of hay.  So – I headed out with the ration for Bruce and Cora.

For the first time ever – by the time I headed out to lead April to her stall for the night – Cora was the first to make it into the barn for hay.  Bruce made a pit-stop to clean up the bowl of combined crumbs unfinished by Killian and April – which  I always leave for him.

And Cora took no issue to Dwayne being in the barn – at all.

It made him smile.  It gave him comfort.  And that is what I was hoping for.

Thank you, Lord!

This entry was posted in Misc., PF Patriot's Cora, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Ice – Rain – Mud and Muck in Those Learning Years

  1. Good to hear from you again. You sure are gaining experience this winter, that’s for sure. I love hearing your stories.


  2. Queenacres says:

    Love the pictures and stories! Glad to hear that Cora and Dwayne are coming along. This may be a stupid question, but do you milk Dexters or are they just for beef?


    • Thanks! There tends to be some confusion from missing information on various websites about Irish Dexter Cattle. In reality – they are very capable of being ” Tri-Purpose ” cattle. Besides their beef and wonderful milk – Steers are known over in the UK for being trained to pull – for plowing.

      Dwayne and I have not had a chance to milk any of our girls. The 2 Cow/Calf pairs that arrived in October, 2012 came from a Brood Herd. April – our Heifer calf that arrived with Patty – was already imprinted by her mother’s wild behaviors. I’ve been able to gentle her down quite a bit. However – I just don’t know how long it will take to get her to stop that kicking! She has become quite a Pro. I may give it a try after she drops her first calf in 2014.

      We will be pulling calves from their moms sooner than the previous owners practiced. We figure we’ll be weaning around 4 months. That should give me more time with heifer calves, to get them acclimated for having their udders handled.


  3. Thanks for the like on my blog. Sounds like no matter where you are, winter in the cattle business “tries men’s souls.” Hang in there.


  4. Thanks for the like on my blog. Sounds like no matter where you are, winter in the cattle business can be “the times tat try men’s soul”. Hang in there.


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