A few months ago I would have just about taken a nap in the pasture with our beloved bull Hal. We raised him up since he was a wee one and he payed the perfect amount of attention to us as well as kept the perfect amount of distance from us. Calmly moving when we asked him to move, obediently staying when we asked him to stay. He was a gentleman to the ladies and attentive and protective to his newborn calves, sidling up to the new mom and keeping careful watch over the calf during its first few nights when we worry most about coyotes. All things change and it seems Hal has entered a new period of life. He has suddenly become snotty, clearly demonstrating his opinions when he likes or doesn’t like a pasture or hay he has been given. When we move the animals he always needs to be the first in line now, racing to the front of the group and just about bowling over any young ones in his path. And bellowing that high pitched, hoarse sound that only a bull can make, but makes me cry out for a cough drop in sympathy.
We’re not quite sure what exactly transpired last night around 8 pm, but as we were turning the lights out to sleep I heard that all too familiar bellowing sound right outside our windows. Knowing that our herd was way down the road made me absolutely freeze in place seconds before I jumped up and threw my clothes on. The thoughts of 13 cows, calves and steers running down Leaning Road behind Hal in the pitch black night made my heart climb up into my throat. What we found when we got outside was actually 16 animals running down the road as the dairy fence has been torn down and Hal was aggressively trailing our Jersey Winter who was just as aggressively trying to lose him. Seemingly in heat, but not ready to stand for him yet.
While yelling a good deal at each other, James and I managed to gather up the now spread out animals and lure/push them into a partially fenced-in field and quickly erect a fence on the fourth side of the pasture. We threw them some bales of hay, counted the animals by flashlight, tested the fence to make sure it was as hot as it could go and tried to return to a nice, calm night of sleep.
We replayed much of this again before dawn this morning as we tried to separate the dairy cows out from the herd for milking time. Hal now aggressively trailing Willa, with her young calf Winny desperately trying to keep up with mom. As I write everyone is behind a fence and hopefully will stay that way for the day. Hal’s days however are numbered, if all goes as planned the next time I encounter him speeding down the road he will be on the way to one of your freezers.
In the veggie share this week: parsnips, kale, celery, brussel sprouts, winter squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage, leeks, onions, garlic, white beans, and kraut.
In the meat share: pork, beef and chickens. Lard, stock and organ meats in the freezer.
See you all tonight between 4 and 6,
Full and By Farm