But first! One short horse story. The story is short, not the horse. I think I'm going to leave the horse stories to RJ -- he knows much more about them than I do. I just have a few funny stories about horses. They are SO big to be SO emotional!|
So, there I was, minding my own business in a galaxy, far, far away on probably a Saturday afternoon, maybe a semi-lazy Sunday, and we were riding slowly through the cow herd, checking heat.
("Checking heat" definitely falls into the category of Animal Husbandry 101, so if this needs to be explained further, let me know and I'll be very, very careful to define it. Otherwise, let's continue.)
We had a lot of heifers that year (a heifer is a cow that has not yet given birth to a calf. They don't have clue one what is going on, and they tend to be wildly unpredictable, bordering on hysterical. I can't really blame them -- that probably is fairly terrifying, the entire process from beginning to end, and I have a LOT of "When The Heifer Blew Up And Leaped Over The Fence At 3 a.m." stories, too, but I digress...)
Riding slowly through a herd of cows doesn't upset them as long as everyone is verrrrry calm. They just stand there, chewing their cuds, and we were meandering and doing a careful checking to see if any needed to be moved out of that pasture since they were ready for breeding.
Slowly is the key for this little endeavor, and sometimes not moving at all. You can do a lot of looking from way up there, and a calm cow is a happy cow is a happy everyone else.
My horse's name was Buddy, and Buddy was just a love. I didn't name him, but he was well-named. Buddy would walk up behind me and lay his head on my shoulder for skritches. He was sort of a like a very big, very friendly and loving dog. I adored Buddy! I also trusted him completely and entirely, and I love that kind of relationship with an animal. I think he felt the same way about me.
Anyway, in a very quiet voice, The Rancher said to me "Elle, you need to kick your horse."
I said, in an equally quiet voice and hushed tone, so as not to disrupt or upset the herd, "What? I'm not kicking my horse! Why would I kick my horse??" I can be emphatic and still quiet and calm.
And The Rancher replied, "Because he's asleep."
So I sort of leaned way over and looked, and sure enough, it was all just so laid back and calming, Buddy had indeed fallen asleep and was just standing there, taking a little nap on the job.
Now I ask you -- how could you not love a horse like that? And I absolutely did NOT kick him! I just leaned forward and rubbed his ears and whispered to him that he might want to wake up, it was time to meander a little more. And then tried really hard not to laugh until we were out of that pasture.
Reply #701. Nov 19 10, 8:12 AM
It has been my experience that when a cow or heifer is in heat it will be walking the fence, bawling its head off and riding everything in sight.|
Reply #702. Nov 19 10, 10:02 AM
But not always, honeybee! Sometimes, they just truly stand their, chewing their cud, but there are still ways to know that merely require observation.|
Either that, or we had very elusive cows, which is entirely possible. Elusive, but happy cows.
Reply #703. Nov 19 10, 10:22 AM
(They stand "there," not "their" -- oops)|
Reply #704. Nov 19 10, 10:24 AM
I am an old lady who has owned, (and own) a variety of animals. I have two young heifers and a cow, plus several feeders now. When the cows are in heat it is typical for them to exhibit the actions that I described for approximately a day and a half every 19 or twenty days until bred. |
Reply #705. Nov 19 10, 10:50 AM
Well, on our 14,000 acres of ranch, we had 200 cows, four bulls, a team of draft horses, 2,500 ewes which produced thousands and thousands of lambs every spring, a handful of rams, a few wethers, and 20 horses. Oh, and one mule. And 7 barn cats. Mama Kitty moved those kittens three times before I convinced her I was a "friend of the family" and thankfully the last place she moved them was up into a hayloft in one of the barns, so I got to play with them up there, and when they were old enough, I helped the Vet spay and neuter them in my kitchen. Which is another story altogether.
All my stories are past tense because I live in Colorado right now, but Montana will always be home.
Now maybe our cows truly were of the happy variety, even though I've read that California is the Land Of Happy Cows, but trust me -- we did indeed ride through our herd to check heat three times a day during that joyous and blessed time of the year.
Calving and lambing in Montana comes in February, usually in the middle of a blizzard, and it's not unusual to be out there pulling lambs out of snowbanks by their hind legs. One godawful spring, I had 75 lambs in my basement for 3 days until the storm passed and we could get them sorted out and back with their mamas.
Maybe when you multiply the cows by one or two hundred, checking for heat becomes a little more complicated? And there is no sense moving them into the breeding barn or pasture too early.
Or maybe we just do things differently in Montana?
Reply #706. Nov 19 10, 12:49 PM
Yes, I am sure that open range animals take a lot more observation than ones on five acres do. You can look out your front window and know what is what with them if you want to. I only have 5 miniasture ponies and the few cattle now. I have had show rabbits, show goats ( Boer goats), milk goats, market lambs and breedind sheep, lots of pigs, donkeys, horses, chickens, turkeys, and even a couple of emus.|
Reply #707. Nov 19 10, 12:59 PM
Emus! I love emus!|
I forgot the milkgoat, too. Misty the Mountain Goat belonged to our sheepherder. He took 3 days off every month, and I would milk Misty for him, and give all of that gorgeous milk to the kitties. She was beautiful and one of the cleanest animals I have ever been around, and her milk truly was thick and rich and luxurious, but I couldn't bring myself to drink it.
And Misty was so patient with me! Milking a goat is an artform, I'm convinced of it. Right about the time I'd be getting the hang of it, she'd go back up the mountain with the sheepherder, and I'd forget my technique, and have to relearn it the next month.
Do you drink your goats' milk? And do you do any spinning of wool?
Your menagerie sounds incredible!
Reply #708. Nov 19 10, 1:09 PM
We don't have any goats now. When we did have the goats the babies took the milk or it went to the pigs. I know that is a shame because goats milk is very expensive to buy, but I just couldn't bring myself to drink it.|
Reply #709. Nov 19 10, 1:15 PM
I did make lots of goat cheese, though. Husband liked it and so did the neighbors.|
Reply #710. Nov 19 10, 1:17 PM
I understand completely. Some people love goat's milk and swear by it. I can't drink it.|
I know it's naturally homogenized, which is probably why it is truly so gorgeous, but ugh...
I tried. I truly tried. I didn't try drinking Misty's milk, because it was right out of the goat and it was warm! But I did buy a pint at the store, ice cold, and tried that, and it went to the kitties, too.
Apparently, if you are lactose-intolerant, you can drink goat's milk? I've heard that, and it was certainly true of my kitties, but I don't know if it's true of people, too. Do you know?
Reply #711. Nov 19 10, 1:20 PM
|Come on in city folk and learn how the meat and taters get to table. I don't have anything to do with goats myself but I don't have anything against them, other than the smell. The only things I've raised is cattle, horses and guinea's. I love all animals some more than others. I tolerate people most of the time ;-)|
Reply #712. Nov 19 10, 5:08 PM
I grew up in a small town near a good-sized city, and I was surrounded only by chicks and geese and ducks scurrying about. I love your farm and ranch talk!|
Reply #713. Nov 19 10, 5:46 PM
Now Morpheus, you know that only billygoats stink and that is mostly seasonal. The Boar goatsc were different because they bred anytime of the year. And yes, nothing stinks worse than a billygoat.|
Reply #714. Nov 19 10, 7:18 PM
|OK, I'll admit that it isn't the smell that kept me from raising goats. It's more economics and personal preference that decides it. Animals and agriculture that's where its at, if you don't mind working for a living.|
Reply #715. Nov 20 10, 9:07 AM
I don't know anything about goats, but I'm entertained by what I'm reading-and perhaps learning something, too (it's hard to tell)|
Mom said that when she was younger, she'd go across the street and help milk the cows (or, uh, something like that!)
I've passed chicken farms, and to me that's one of the most disgusting smells (the only ones worse are mushroom manure and skunk!)
Reply #716. Nov 20 10, 1:18 PM
Gosh, I have never smelled mushroom manure.|
Reply #717. Nov 20 10, 2:09 PM
I too am interested in the nature of this "mushroom manure";-)|
Reply #718. Nov 20 10, 4:51 PM
From what I understand, it's a fertilizer used primarily in PA (found the following three links):|
1 “Those of us who garden in Pennsylvania are lucky to have a ready supply of "mushroom manure"! This product begins with the horse manure that is cleaned
out of stalls at horse farms or racetracks. It is then trucked to the mushroom mine where it is further processed by adding straw and chipped corn cobs,
among other things. After being spread in the mushroom beds it is steam pasteurized. Following one crop of mushrooms it is removed from the mine and
stockpiled. It is then transported to landscape supply yards for delivery to garden centers.”
2 “a by-product of the mushroom industry called mushroom soil, mushroom manure or spent mushroom substrate.
It's an excellent mulch for flower beds, and a great replacement for straw mulch on newly seeded or spot-seeded lawns. “
3 “Block quote start
is a totally
mixture of wheat straw, peat
and chicken litter. This combination of ingredients is used in commercial
farms to grow mushrooms. These materials are composted for many weeks and then placed into a huge room where it is completely sterilized and then the
growing cycle begins. Strangely enough, mushrooms will only grow in this mixture for a very short time, usually 18 to 20 days. At this time the
has to be removed and a brand new batch will already have been prepared for the next crop.
Block quote end”
Reply #719. Nov 20 10, 8:35 PM
Oooh Lord. Yes, cows are wonderful and all that. Nonsense! I learned to hate cows at an early age. They remind me of people! Working with those damn cows in a dairy -- ugh. To this day I hate milk! But I must admit I still like eating them. |
Horses, on the other hand, I still don't understand. But it's a good misunderstanding.
Reply #720. Nov 20 10, 9:35 PM
Legal / Conditions of Use