15 December 2008

Until the Cows Come Home

Saturday we helped our neighbor (I can't rmemeber if he is in his 70s or 80s) bring a small herd of cattle home from a more remote pasture. This is something we do yearly as winter comes in and they can't stay out. Part of the drive is on public roads, but most of it is through the woods on a private road.

The usual routine is for the farmer to drive a tractor with a large round hay bale on the back. He is then hopefully followed by the cows, only one of which has made the trip before. Then a few people walk behind to keep the cows from wandering off. I am the final tail, driving our 4WD SUV after them as support.

Molly came along on a long line, hoping that her presence could help move the cows. With good support, we also hoped that the experience would be a good confidence boost for her. We didn't want to risk her loose because she isn't trained enough to know what we want her to do with the cows and we wanted to help make sure she didn't press them too hard.

To be honest, neither DH or I thinks the drive would have gone so smoothly if she hadn't been along. Not that it went THAT smoothly. There were fewer people than usual and a couple of the heifers were really wild and hard to deal with. Two heifers broke through the people and back into the pasture. While trying to get them out onto the road, the rest of the herd wandered off.

I wasn't much help because of my limited mobility. Even following in the car was an ordeal for me. I'd had to take less pain killers. If the drive hadn't been at cow speed and mostly on a private road where no one else would be, I wouldn't have done it at all.

DH took Molly from me after the heifers broke away and used her to get them turned and following the tractor. He had to run to get past them, but he did it. The leash we had her on was a flex line that extends up to 6 meters or something like that. Much of the time, he was that far behind her. He really feels confident that she did the work.

She also helped collect the rest of the herd that had wandered off. In that time, the first two had wandered off again. So DH and Molly drove the main part of the herd with me following while the other two people headed off to track down the two lost cows and get them back with the herd.

Things went pretty smoothly through the woods until we reached an open meadow. Then the cows broke off into the meadow. Molly and DH dived into the woods to get beyond them and turn them back. She did wonderfully then DH put her into a down-stay as the other two came up and joined the herd. We hit two more meadows later and once again those two got the herd turned back and gathered.

None of my pictures on the woods part of the drive worked. Mostly I was too busy concentrating on driving and maintaining control of my legs to try. But I did try few shots when parked to keep the cows from heading back down the road. Ididn't change lenses though, so they all are worthless.

But once we got up the barn, the herd broke into the pasture with the home herd. I was able to park and get out with the camera. About 5 cows were out of the pasture, so we got those into the barn first. DH did a makeshift fix on the fence to keep the rest in. I was able to get out and get some pictures of Molly helping get the cows in. These follow here.

Our girl was very brave and did not back down when the cows were stubborn. At one point I reminded DH to support her--he was busy directing the other human helpers--but mostly she managed on her own or with a little encouragement. One cow did manage to break away, but it was mostly the fault of the human helpers who didn't hold their part of the line. Molly ran and tried to get it, but her line got tangled up in its legs. I ended up turning it back from the yard--being the only person in a position to do so.

But Molly didn't lose her nerve and kept at it. She followed the last cow into the barn and helped in there a bit as well. The one was really wild and aggressive and even kicked at her. She ducked the kick and kept right on working--or so DH tells me.

I hope you enjoy these shots. Excuse the poor quality. The weather was very overcast and I had the camera in action mode. Even with that, they weren't always clear because of the low light.

Note: Itried to get he order right, but Blogger picture upload seems a little inconsisent, so a few are probably out of order.

Edited to add: Some pics are cut off in my display, but I have no idea why. You may need to click pics to really see the full picture.


Lexi, Qwill, Shiner and Trophy said...

Way to go Molly! Only one herding lesson under your belt but a whole lot of instinct goes a long way! Great job! :)

Anna said...

Well done Molly.

Looks and sounds like she did brilliantly.

I am hoping every day that you begin to feel a little bit better and are not in so much pain.

Have a great christmas

Raising Addie said...

Good Job Molly!

You are sooo very smart!

We are praying that you will feel better soon Becca.


Samantha ~ Holly and Zac ~ said...

I am so glad you recieved the card. I was beginning to think it had got lost in Post land.. lol
(i just answered on my blog too but put this on here as well in case you don't see it)

Molly looks tiny compared to all those cows, they look huge!

Dina ... UK said...

Now that looked scary!
Those cows look soooooooooo big.
Molly you are very brave :-)
are you playing the meme today?

Tansy said...

Most impressive, Molly! Those cows would likely intimidate me. Rafe might be bolder, but he'd move very slowly. You took your job seriously!

Best Barks,

Edith said...

Great pictures! Looks like Molly isn't afraid of anything. Great job, all of you!