Sunday, May 2, 2010

The cows are out

Around here, "the cows are out" is a statement capable of initiating an immediate response. I'm guessing that's the case on most other dairy farms, too. The only thing worse than having cattle out is the cows (or heifers) getting out when the farmwork is in someone else's hands because you took the weekend off.

Skippy, our Brown Swiss heifer, jumped out of the dry cow-bred heifer lot three times while we were gone last weekend. The fence just wasn't enough to keep her away from the green grass on the other side. After the third time, the guys who do chores for us finally resorted to locking her in the shed.

So, Monday morning, instead of trying to keep Skippy in, the dry cows went out to pasture. Tuesday morning the milk cows followed. It was sort of unplanned start to the grazing season, but we were pleasantly surprised by how much grass was actually out there already. It didn't look like that much from the barn.

And, like they always do, as soon as the milk cows discovered the open gate to the pasture they bolted out like a group of young heifers. Even some of the old cows kicked their heels up. Then, just as quickly, they stopped in their tracks. I think they thought they were going to be in trouble for being out. Glen gave a yell, they realized it was okay, and they took off again. They rushed from one end of the pasture to the other, like they were checking to make sure it was all still there. Then they all came into the cow yard and looked around like 'what are we supposed to do now?'

Glen said, "I think they forgot what grass is."

But, then, slowly they made their way back out to the pasture and started grazing.

Next year I'm going to video tape the sight. It's the only time I'm happy to hear "the cows are out".

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