Semi View/Cows Working Us Day!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This morning on the farm we "worked the cows." Or so we've always called it.

For those that don't know, it's when you get the vet out, and spend three hours getting 40 cows and 50 calves (did I count that right?) into a chute to get their yearly vaccinations and fly tags.

However this morning as I was sweating and using my 40-something, 100 pound (did I count that right?) body, to try to throw myself in front of a 1,400-pound cow (I did count that right), I realized we're not working the cows -- they're working us.

That's right, they're working us! I didn't see old Daisy or Pink or even Miss Ferrari, the show heifer out mowing the lawn or bringing me a glass of tea. No -- Bossy, #21, #54 or #260 weren't out pulling weeds from the garden or washing my windows. No, no, all I saw were myself, my husband, our two sons and the vet working to get the cows single file into a chute.

They don't want to go there, either. And anyone who has ever "worked" -- uh I mean, "been worked" by the cows knows that they'll do everything they can to convince you not to put them there.

The morning of the day, we will now call "Cows Working Us Day," starts early. We first have to go out and convince the cows there is a good reason to leave their nice green pastures, full pond and pretty shade trees.

Who would want to leave? After all, it's the perfect life if you ask me. All they want to eat -- free of charge, no bills, no problems, no high gas prices, no school, no job, just days and days of swimming in the pond, soaking up the sun and laying in the grass.

The one problem I can see are those pesky flies they keep swatting with their tails. And even though I know some old farmers used to say, "What else do cows have to do but sit around and swat flies anyway" -- we like to help them with that problem by putting in fly tags.

And that brings us back to getting them to come in to our lot. They don't know that we have their best interest at heart. No, all they see is a group of people, two 4-wheelers and a border collie, trying to ruin their perfect day.

Each cow has her own personality, and when they are carefree, munching grass in the pasture, it's hard to pick out the differences -- but get them in close quarters and they show themselves pretty quickly.

First there is the Leader, she's my favorite. She heads the herd and starts to run them right into, oh no, the wrong way. Okay, finally after about a half hour of running, yelling and my children hearing words "Daddy only uses around the cattle," we finally get the leader heading the right way. The others usually follow.

Once we get them in the lots we start to learn other personality traits. There is the Kicker -- I think that one is self-explanatory. Then there is the Mooer, she's the one who bellows loudly-- especially if your ear is close by. There is also the Squeezer, she's the one who doesn't believe in going single file up the chute. No, she tries to squeeze next to the cow in front of her, basically causing a 2,800-pound traffic jam.

There is also the Runner, the Frozen Statue, the Wanderer and the Wrong Way Queen, all self-explanatory.

And then there is my least favorite: the Squirter (Warning: If you are eating breakfast, lunch or dinner, please put this paper down and do not read anymore!) Okay, you've been warned. The Squirter is the one that likes to show you just what she thinks of all this vaccination stuff. About the time you get right behind her-well, you know, she finishes digesting that nice green grass and ...splat. Then, of course, she has to swat a fly with her tail and well ... let's just say she's Picasso and you're the canvas.

So after three hours, 50 cows and 40 calves (did I count that right?), you see that if only I could "be worked" by the cows everyday -- the weight I quoted for myself earlier might actually be true.

But please, please don't make me. I need a shower -- and a nap!

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  • Great writing talent. I always enjoy this column. Those of us that have worked cattle understand..."... let's just say she's Picasso and you're the canvas."

    -- Posted by Craw4d on Tue, May 27, 2008, at 3:23 PM
  • Dear Craw4d,

    Thank you very much for the compliment, I really appreciate it. Thank you also for reading the column. I really do enjoy writing them and letting others know about the trials and tribulations of farm life.



    -- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 8:21 AM
  • Marcia, great story. I swear that I smelled the operation as you told of it. I remember those days when sweat burned my eyes and stench burned my nose. However I would take that any day over cleaning out an overdue tin roofed sheep shed with a shovel on a hot summer day. One tends to wax nostalgic in later years. Thanks for the reality check.

    -- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 8:54 PM
  • Thank you Oklahoma Reader. I am sure that cleaning out a sheep shed would be an even harder job than "Cows Working Us". I, for one, have gotten used to the smell of cattle. I dare say, I even, kind of, like it and find it "like home"!

    Thanks for commenting.


    -- Posted by Marcia Gorrell on Sun, Jun 1, 2008, at 9:32 PM
  • Marcia, you told me you wanted to be some combination of Erma Bombeck and, oh, I don't remember who - I think you're there! I laughed until tears ran down my face.

    -- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, Jun 7, 2008, at 9:45 AM
  • "Then, of course, she has to swat a fly with her tail and well ... let's just say she's Picasso and you're the canvas."

    One of your best lines ever. I'm laughing so hard, I'm snorting.

    -- Posted by talea on Sat, Jun 28, 2008, at 9:42 PM
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