Monday, May 11, 2015

Calf Sorting

Onwards to proper cattle work today, mustering and tagging. The first problem is that cows and calfs do not like being herded. So we got one mob from the “Top Landslide” (paddock name) in to the yards (smaller paddocks) and started sorting them out. The “Top Landslide” mob fortunately was a small mob of AI (artificial insemination) cows. We got them in the yard in fair time, as the calfs are pretty energetic animals that have no idea that we are trying to get them to go somewhere. Luckily in this one no calf tried to break out of formation to bad, but that could be because Catherine and me where acting like mobile fences in the utes and James was at the back pushing the mob forward with his quad whilst two dogs (Marley and Coke) where helping along. Some cows did not appreciate the dog, thought and the mom's went after them sometimes. Once we had rounded them up in the yards we took them through even smaller yards to get them to the race (a line of iron fencing where they can only go single file). We sorted out the calfs from the cows in a separate pen and got to vaccinating and checking the cows for any harm. After all the cows had gone through it was the calfs turn. Whilst getting them out of their pen to the race some of them proved to lively and, I was warned by James beforehand, got kicked just next to the knee by a two foot calf. Luckily it didn't hit the knee head on, that small guy had enough kick to possibly shatter my knee cap. After that I was a lot more wary of the animals, as I especially did not want to get hit by big cattle. Once one or two of the small calfs had been tagged and recorded we let them out to their mom's to find out which calf belongs to which cow. The calfs were pretty hungry after spending a morning in the pens all on their own. The amount of racket made the whole time over is unbelievable, as calfs are calling for cows and cows are calling for calfs. Once that had been sorted out the mob was put aside in another smaller paddock for the next mob to get. The next one was a bit more problematic, as they where on the other side of the creek in a paddock a bit further away. By the time we had gotten the bigger mob together we had to
 get them over the creek. The calfs had never seen running water before and where reluctant to cross it. It ended up with one getting caught in wire and saved by me, anther being pushed out of the creek by Catherine on her knees and the three of us herding the few remaining ones in to the creek and up the other side. It ended up with Catherine, James and me having rubber boots filled with a mixture of water and cow muck. We eventually, after a lot of work, got the cattle up to the pens and went through the same process as the mob before. As this was a bigger mob it made a hell of a lot more noise and the small pen for the calfs was filled with lots of small (I dare say cute) mooing calfs. We had to let them go and look for their mom's after some point and took up all the information in the books.
That took it's fair share of time, so by the time we had all that done it was dark and we went back to the house for some food and warmth. Watched a film about the misuse of backpackers in Australia and happy I ended up here.  

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