Welcome to our ranch near Canada's west coast in Beautiful British Columbia's West Chilcotin mountain region. Where calling the vet means hollering back at the house to bring your kit, new friendships are formed from the back of a horse and true fun for a five year old is getting a machete for Christmas. Where 'cutting the dinks off' has a totally different meaning than what first comes to mind, Muck Boots are a household name, a hand shake still means something and the coffee is always on.

Friday 17 April 2015

The Carnivorous Cow

So a few years ago we bought a bunch of cows from a neighbor.  They assured us that they had already culled out anything cranky or that wrecked fences etc.  We purchased them in the spring (calves at their side) and they did well.  It took a bit for them to get used to staying with the herd (they tended to head for the hills when they saw a horse), but it wasn't a huge issue and by the end of summer they were all pretty well 'trained' that way.  They were nice cows, in good shape and they bred back early.  Perfect.  
So the story begins.
Mum mentioned in the middle of chores that there was a cow calving in the feed pen, but we just didn't have the time to get her out before she had her baby.  Realizing this, we left her alone to clean off her baby and let it find its feet.  Eventually Dad and I gt the bike and trailer and headed in to the feed pen.  
So the usual routine is to have two people if possible, one to lift and put the calf on the sleigh, and the other to fend off the cow if necessary and help get the calf legs in the right holes in the felting.  
As I was the closest, I gave dad the sorting stick and scooped the calf up in my arms, keeping an eye on the relatively calm cow carefully watching me.  Dad turns towards the sleigh to get ready to help there.  
As I turned to walk with the calf, it suddenly becomes startlingly clear that momma was not about to accept this new arrangement.  With a mad bellow she charged right at me and with no other defense coming to mind, I threw the calf back at her.  Luckily for both me and the calf, she stopped. And was not about to let me near again.
Plan B.
Another tactic is to drive the bike and sleigh between the cow and calf, have one person distract and the other toss the calf into the sleigh. Usually that is as tricky as we have to get.    It soon become apparent that THAT was also going to fail as she furiously raged and blew snot and slobber all over the bike as she tried to climb over it to get at us.  
She was in such a state at that point that we abandoned the bike she was doing her best to destroy and ran for the feeder, at this point in hysterical laughter.  (That's what sheer panic does to you right?)  
So great plan, except the feeder had just been filled with an exceptionally large hay bale, so not only did we have to get to the feeder, but ON TOP of the bale before we could really get away from her.  
This is the part where I tell the story about dad kicking me back down the bale as he scrambled up it.....but maybe that's just my memory playing tricks on me.  I do remember both of us laughing so hard we could hard get enough breathe to climb.  That was a bit more of that "go, Go GO!" advice as well. So there we both sat, on top of a bale in a feeder, totally stranded, snot and cow tracks all over the quad (and up our backs I'm sure), wide eyed and still laughing in disbelief at the insane bovine pacing and bellowing below us. We wondered if someone would notice and sling shot over a package of crackers to eat.  Or perhaps something a bit stronger.  
Eventually the calf, sick of all the noise maybe, staggered off in a new direction and his irate mother followed, finally giving us a bit of breathing room.  
You can be sure we made use of the opportunity and slid down the bale, shot through the feeder bars and left rooster tails with the quad on the way out.
We still had to get the cow and calf out of the feed pen.
Some more hysterical laughter and head scratching and we came up with Plan C.
I got in the front end loader of the tractor with a rope.  Dad drove me over the top of the calf.  The cow grew fangs, I'm sure.  
I dropped my loop and by pure luck managed to snare the head and one front leg. 
It took absolutely every bit of strength I had, and then some, but I managed to pull that suddenly huge baby straight up in to the tractor bucket with me.  And I swear that cow was coming up on her hind legs roaring like a grizzly bear and snapping like a crocodile.  I'm not gonna lie, it was impressive.    

In the wild, this kind of behavior is great.  I'm quite sure there is not a single predator out there brave enough to take her on.  However, in the much more confined area that we deal with them in,  this is totally unacceptable.    I'm just glad it happened to be me and dad that set out to get her from the pen in the first place.  
We took the baby directly to the barn in the tractor bucket and officially labeled the crazy mother a dry cow and put her down in a different pen.  She didn't forgot who had taken her baby and we had to be very careful around her for a week or so.  She went to market at the first opportunity and her calf "Bert" found himself with a new mom (that's a story for another day.....).  
Calving can be dangerous enough, but we never ever would keep a cow that mean.  Cows can often get protective when they first calve, but she really won the prize for the nastiest ever and it's really not worth someone getting hurt over.

But it makes for a good story, doesn't it? 

       Photo Credit to Tanya P.


FBIL said...

Wonderful story, Punky!
Your posts are always a highlight for me. Reminds me a lot of Randy and I growing up. Hope all is well. Tell Eli "hi" for me.
Eric Krueger

Terra Hatch said...

Great to hear from you Eric! Hope all is well.

Unknown said...

Great story and I can just hear Roger laughing. If it was me with that Mamma I would be dead - yikes!!