Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So relaxing here

I have a very close friend, actually a dear friend, who lives a lot of miles from here and as we were chatting the other night on MSN Messenger, she said, it must be so relaxing where you live. I could only laugh as I related to her what my evening had been like just ahead of my having a chance to touch bases with her.

Farm Boss had come into the house and said, get on your tennis shoes. I need you out here.  I didn't like any part of that idea. Need doesn't sound good. For what?

A cow has a calf's foot sticking out her vulva. It's pretty obvious the calf is dead but I can't get her in the barn by myself.

Ugh. I do not normally do work involving the cattle. I have told him many times that when it comes to herding them, if they come running at me, unlike him, I am stepping out of the way and not trying to turn them by batting them with a big stick.

He had zero sympathy while he handed me the cattle prod which I have never used and had no exact idea how it worked. My mind raced ahead, as I tried to avoid holes in the pasture that might retwist my knee, to ways to prevent this from happening again-- my end of that is. IF he had that ATV I had been suggesting he buy, would I not have to go? If he had built the corral we had discussed, would that have helped? Well it was an emergency and I had no choice.

It had been an anything but relaxing day even before this as I had gone out many times, carrying a gun, to keep an eye on the sheep in the main pasture and to discourage any coyote from having lamb for dinner. I had been anticipating a nice hot bath and a quiet evening. So much for that.

Of course, the cows were clear to the back. As it turned out, the cow in question already had his rope around her neck as he had been able to rope her but not hold her. You try stopping a thousand pound plus animal when they want to go somewhere else. As we herded her back, separating her from the other cattle, I kept seeing that little hoof, and it hurt just thinking about what she was going through.

I won't go through the rest of this story but between trees and eventually being able to secure her to them, then a tractor to pull the legs, he got the dead calf out but not without screaming from the cow. I hate hearing an animal cry in pain like that. Well, who wouldn't.

The cattle were also upset by it as they clearly thought about racing over to save her but using better judgment stayed back as they didn't want whatever was happening to her to happen to them. With the calf out, her relief was immediate, and it's looking good that she will survive as so far she has not prolapsed. If she does, it will all be for nothing and she will have to be killed.

Farm Boss left the calf's carcass out in the pasture without time to bury it before he left for work. About nine, I decided to take the gun out and see if the coyote was going to come around for veal. I first saw it coming up from the creek and began to walk a lot more carefully to avoid it seeing me. Finally I did get a shot at it but with the cows below where I was standing, I was a little apprehensive; and as it turned to run I missed. Curses-- although I don't actually curse and at least I didn't shoot a cow.

There is some compensation.  It probably won't be back immediately. I do not think this was the same one I shot at last time. It looked younger, a bit naive about the dangers it faced coming into our field. It knows a little better now.

Yes, it's so relaxing here.

For what is relaxing to me, the photos are all from Oregon's High Cascades and from a lovely time there with our friends, Parapluie and Fisherman.

 Link to more photos of mountain wildflowers:  
High Cascades

Sunday was a perfect day to be in the mountains, the hike not too far, the air not too hot, my knee held up well, and although the flowers were not as impressive as last year due to an unusual spring and early summer, they were still very soul inspiring. If all goes well, we are going back on Friday and I am maybe taking my oils.


robin andrea said...

That's quite a story, and yes, definitely not a relaxing evening. Hope the cow is doing well after that ordeal. Hope you are too...

la peregrina said...

Farm life is not easy. I admire your spiritual strength in facing the harshness of that live without loosing awareness of the connection between us and the animals we are responsible for or come in contact with each day.

You protect your sheep by waiting to see who comes to attack them. I know people who put will put a poisoned cow carcass out in a field far from their animals. They're not looking to kill the animal that is attacking there cows, they are trying to kill any coyote that stumbles across the corpse. I find that practice disturbing.

Rain said...

I feel the same way. We won't ever use poison as it would kill many innocent creatures including the bald eagle that sometimes feeds here. I don't want to kill anything and frankly part of me was not sorry I missed that beautiful little animal that was only trying to survive itself. BUT I did try to kill it.

Part of how I missed was a misunderstanding of physics which Farm Boss tries to explain to me but which mystifies me. He said shoot above the animal as the bullet drops with a .22. But what I hadn't taken into account was this time, it wasn't that far and I should have aimed right at it. I am learning as I go and this is from a woman who doesn't step on a spider if I can find a way to put it outside. With ranching though you realize you have to be hard or forget the whole thing.

Rain said...

Right now, with having had 3 lambs killed, any coyote on this place is looking to be shot at. Friday I had just happened to be down by the creek to try and take photos of butterflies (no luck as they would not settle to pose) when I saw the sheep and cattle all come running. Farm Boss was out in his shop working and I yelled at him to grab his gun. My yelling or his running out either way, the coyote was gone before he could get a shot; but that was pure luck that I happened to be out when I saw it happening in time to prevent a kill. I've been fortunate that way several times. Once they start killing on your place, it's hard to stop them. But we recognize coyotes are an important part of the ecosystem. Just we want them afraid to come onto our fenced property. In a month, after a lot of hard work and expensive fencing, we probably will have much better, tighter fences around the whole place where it can no longer get in. I hope that works for the coyotes' sake, our sake and the sheeps'.

Darlene said...

I am sorry the calf was dead and that the mother suffered so much. I know that it must have been very difficult for you, Rain. I will be happy for you when you get a fence installed to keep the critters out.

Your wildflower photos are spectacular. I have never seen a flower like the red one. It is beautiful.

Rain said...

The red flower is Indian Paintbrush and they are only seen in the high mountains as far as I know. They really are awesome for their beauty during their time in the sun.

20th Century Woman said...

I admire you for living so close to nature, in all its beauty and harshness, and for facing the harshness head on. You are a tough, brave woman, and yet you see the lovely things too. Bravo!

Ingineer66 said...

Beautiful photos and an interesting story. Since you will not take my advice and sell all the livestock and move to Arizona.;-) I will offer these tips. On the cattle prod hold it so the two copper pointy parts are touching the unreasonable beast and press the button. Do not try this while you are touching the beast or touching the copper parts to your person.
Second point, get yourself a Rhino or Ranger ATV and put a gun rack and spot light on it. That way you are covered for lots of different situations.

And thank you for not sharing any more details. The other day at the Vet's across the street from my office something bad was happening in a small stock trailer out front. And from the sounds, I do not even want to know what it was.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

My Lord, what a horrific thing to have happen and to have yo be a part of Rain....Poor Cow and Poor Calf, too...And Poor You!

Beautiful pictures, my dear....

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Lordy, I can't even imagine helping out with the birthing cow--pulled her out with a tractor? Yikes! And you out shooting coyotes.

But, just like life itself, there you were with your friends and all those wild flowers in the cascades. Life is good.

Ashleigh Burroughs said...

Your delicate writing and your cattle prod/gun toting/sheep protecting life are in interesting counter-point to one another, aren't they? AND you paint in oils?!

They don't make 'em like you any more, girl!