The Cow Taxi (our big pickup with stock trailer) has been busy shuttling cattle this week. I felt like a Soccer Mom delivering these cows to this field and those to another. Miles Smith Farm now has three active off-farm pastures: one in Barnstead and two pastures in Canterbury. This was a week of sorting and delivering cows, heifers, and bulls to the correct field so that nine months from now – springtime – calves are born.
Our bulls had been loaned out to other farmers until this week. Larry, a 5-year-old Hereford bull, was hanging out with the Potters’ herd in Gilmanton and a 4-year-old named Washington was in Plymouth with Dick Piper’s herd. Dick returned Washington to our farm, but husband Bruce and I had to go pick up Larry, who had a problem with our timing. The Potters’ herd of 80 cattle includes one enchantress with an ear tag identifying her as No. 37. She is a petite black-and-white heifer with a swing to her step and come-hither look in her eye. Larry, a devoted lover, would not leave her side sticking to her like a bear with honey.
During his stay, 37 had become Larry’s lucky number, and he refused to consider getting into the trailer.
How do you move an unwilling bull? One way is to entice him with an attractive cow (preferably in heat.) The Potter cattle, including No. 37, were strangers to us, and therefore not to be relied upon for a delicate maneuver. So we had brought along a lovely, black 2-year-old Highlander heifer named Riley. She has long black hair, brushed silky smooth, with bangs hanging half-way down her face. Riley is easy to lead and obedient; the perfect enchantress.
We parked the Cow Taxi in the middle of the Potters’ pasture, where it was surrounded by cows, steers, and calves. I led Riley out and paraded her past Larry. He gave her a sniff and then turned his attention back to No. 37. He was ready to ask her what color they should paint the nursery.
Plan B: Food is an excellent way to motivate any animal, but the bucket of grain we offered Larry might as well have been tickets to a Broadway show. He would not be lured from the side of No. 37.
Larry is a gentle bull, more a lover than a fighter, but he is capable of stubborn resistance, and no mere mortal can overcome 1,500 pounds of determination. But maybe the Potters could – Bobby and his grown sons Sam, and Carl.
Bobby fashioned a halter out of a tie-down strap that he attached to a lead rope, which his sons hooked around a bar in the trailer. The young men could not out-pull Larry, but the pressure did cause him to take an occasional step forward. I was inside the trailer with Riley, still hoping she’d make him forget about No. 37. As if hauling in a big fighting fish, the men shortened the line as Larry slowly yielded ground, until his head was in the trailer. But his feet were still on the ground. By then No. 37 had disappeared into the herd.
Without No. 37 eclipsing life’s other attractions, the bucket of grain suddenly shone forth, and Larry jumped into the back of the trailer. Bobby shut the door behind him, and we all scrambled out the front door – Riley lept first through the open door, followed by me and a couple of Potter men all falling over each other in our hurry. Larry tried to follow us out, but since he was still tied, he couldn’t.
Larry had little opportunity to pine for lost love. Our next stop was the pasture in Canterbury, where three lovely cows waited to make his acquaintance.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (www.milessmithfarm.com), where she raises and sells pastured pork, lamb, eggs and grassfed beef. She can be reached at email@example.com.