Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | March 31, 2008

Farmgirl Week … Steers

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Well, so it is only 10:30am and it should be obvious that Day One is far from complete … but it has started.  Loren left this morning at 5am and won’t return until much later which gives me the responsibility of feeding and caring for the animals around here, as well as keeping the house warm during the day and water in the buckets.  Seemed like a much bigger chore last night as I was getting the “low down” on all the ins and outs of being the farm husband during the day around here, but in the light of day it might just be a little more do-able then I thought last night.  Don’t get me wrong though, I wouldn’t want to be the farm husband around here all the time or anything, being temporary farm husband should be ok though … but I will let you know for sure at the end of the week!

For day one I thought that I would share with you about my new fear of the steers.  Now, I know it seems silly that I would be afraid of them but seriously folks, they are big … and they have horns!  Paul looked pretty sweet this morning … you gotta admit that … the little snow falling helps him to look more angelic don’t you think?

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Though he was sweet looking this morning last night he wasn’t so cute.  Loren was showing me how to put bedding down in the calf barn, which pretty much means putting hay or straw where there are obvious “piles” that could create a bigger mess … not a tough job, but it is a pretty small space.  So anyway, as I was doing my chores all of a sudden I turned around and saw Paul … he came in and pretty much cornered me … not really, but “sorta” … I had plenty of room, but he seemed much bigger in the barn then out in the yard.  I told Loren “see, this is why I am afraid of them, they are big and you can tell he just doesn’t like me”.  Loren yelled at him and he ran out … I love it when my husband gets all “gentlemanly like” and helps this poor damsel in distress.  Ha.  I am so not the damsel in distress but he is certainly gentlemanly.  Paul came back to the doorway and looked at me and snarled and shook his head at me.  I am not kidding … he really did!  Loren said, “Oh he just wants to play with you.” And I said “well, I am not playing with him.”  Have I mentioned that they have horns?!  Oh man those horns freak me out.  Most people who raise beef cattle de-horn them, but Loren likes them to be as natural as possible, which is why he only raises organic grass fed beef and which is why they get to keep their horns. 

So why would Paul think that I should play with him?  Well, that would be because Loren really does play with them, which is sort of a problem when I don’t. They are just steers after all and so I can’t blame them for thinking that all people who walk on two legs and come and feed them would like to play with them!  Loren has been playing with them since they were little though and he knows how to deal with them and they respect him because he is their “farmer”… they respect him because he is responsible for their food and drink.  I play second fiddle to their favorite farmer and now that they know that I don’t play, I may be even lower on the list.  But in the end Paul stayed clear of me for fear of being yelled at I suppose … but it worked for me.

I muddled through helping out with the rest of the steer chores and they went ok … until I suddenly realized that I would be all alone tomorrow … why I hadn’t had that realization before I don’t know but I instantly got scared and couldn’t imagine how I could do this tomorrow. 

Well, tomorrow became today and Loren was off and I was forced to face this new found fear.  Before Loren left though he said, “if you just can’t go in the yard and bed them they will survive the week … they will be a little dirty (we have pretty clean animals because Loren really takes great care of them) … but they will be just fine.  You don’t have to fight with them.  You can also just throw their food over the fence and not put it in the tank and that will be ok too … not ideal … but just fine, so don’t worry about it and just do what you can”.  See, he is nice huh?  However, I mentioned before that I am not so much the damsel in distress type.  Knowing that I could get out of doing the chores just made me more determined to do them.  Sometimes I wonder if would be nice to be the damsel … all wimpy and such … but I am just not made that way.  Partly due to my stubbornness and also my refusal to look like a wimp I faced the fear of Paul and went to do my steer chores.  They seemed less anxious today for whatever reason, maybe they were still waking up.  You know how some little kids are sorta slow and groggy in the morning, they reminded me of them … little toddlers with messy hair stumbling to their cheerios … just imagine them with horns. 

Turns out that I had no problem with the steers this morning for round one of chores … it helped that I had a pitch fork, at least psychologically.  Loren also told me “don’t be afraid to hit them a little with the pitch fork if you need them to move … short pause … well, don’t poke them or hit them in the eye though, maybe use the other end.”  Ha.  He makes me laugh … like I would, but funny that he had a moment of  “oh shoot … that could be dangerous”.  Ha.  I didn’t hit them … I won’t … raising my voice or clapping my hands seems to work with them IF they need to chill out and not scare me to death which hopefully won’t even be needed.  I didn’t bed them yet though since we just did it last night and that is part of my “evening chores” so I will attempt it, but later and since the first feeding went so well I am less fearful … unless I think about it too much that is. 

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Here is Loren and the steers earlier last week.  The cow yard gets pretty mucky in the spring and so Loren put up a temporary fence which they aren’t too crazy about since it limits their “roaming” space, but it won’t be up for long.  In this shot you can see all 5 steers … “mostly” and my farm husband in his “truck fixing dirty gear” … he isn’t normally quite that dirty!  This shot lets you see the cow yard, and the calf barn …  the barn has two sides, the one of the left is where they can get hay (if I don’t put it outside in the tank) and the right side is where they lay and hang out.  Do steers “hang out”? … probably not … but if they did, that is where they would do it. 

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Responses

  1. I have to admit that cows and horses intimidate me as well…I wouldn’t want to be in an enclosed space with one unless I had a cattle prod that carried the potential of a harmless but reassuring (to me!) shock. I used to visit the barn when I was young to see the new calves, but all our cows were trapped in their stantions…stancions….??? those metal head-holders. :) Fortunately I had 5 brothers to do the dirty, dangerous REAL work!

  2. Those critters like to play and they are playful but with those darn horns the result of their playfulness could be somehting other than “steerplay.” Best to keep your eyes on them and not turn your back. With horns, they don’t have to be mean, vicious or dangerous to cause harm. Those horns should have been removed long ago, organic or not. Not nice to say but true. No need to fear them, just watch them.


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