I do not have any photos of this.
Partly because my camera is broken.
Partly because, if it wasn’t broken, I was too busy to use it.
Had I used it anyway, it would’ve gotten broken.
Let me give you some background information, first…
Last year was our first journey into raising cattle. We acquired 3 newborn Jersey bull calves to bottle raise. This we did, with apparent success. Part of that was castrating them, so as is our habit, I got out a few books on the subject, and then told Hubby what to do. 🙂 My job was to help hold them down, speak kindly, while he did the surgical procedure. Jerseys are small, and ours were bottle fed and used to being on the end of a rope.
Hamish, on the other hand, is fed from a Big Horned Mama and had never seen a rope in his life.
You may remember my attempt at dehorning our Jerseys… This kindof reminded me of that (and multitude other farming disasters).
We were approaching the very tail-end of the “window” of DIY cattle castration. Joel Salatin recommends doing this at about 90 days to get the growth and vigor of early testosterone, and less-alternative types start at about 4-6 weeks, I think. We were right around 90 days (Hamish was born May 11, we worked on this August 11-12). I implored Hubby to move this item to the Very Top of the Priority List, even though I had a birthday party to plan and execute that Saturday.
Hubby went and bought a disposable scalpel, some more rope (?), and located the iodine and such while I cleaned the house. When he got back, I said, “okay, let’s go do this.” I told Hubby I’d go lure Hamish over to the truck/shed area with the bucket of grain. An hour later, I determined that wouldn’t work. He was still too skittish, and Mae was far more interested in it than he was. I told Hubby maybe we could drive up nearby, get a rope on him, load him into the pickup and take him far from the eyes and ears of his mama. We drove up to the paddock where the cattle were and continued our efforts. We got a lot of exercise. I divided the grain between two buckets, so as to distract Mae and have a chance at Hamish. I had the loop of rope around the bucket, and when I finally got him to stick his head way in, I moved the rope up around his head.
It was around half his head; held on by one growing horn bud, but down around the side of his mouth on the other. It held for a while, and Hubby managed to drag him a little ways, but we couldn’t decide whether to try to tackle him there (with Mae on the other side of a mild electric fence line) or drag him towards the truck. While we were deciding, he escaped. He was nursing his mother when I looped the rope under his belly, then tied it around his back legs. Wow that boy can kick. I (barely) had hold of the rope, and his hind legs were in the air kicking and twitching like crazy. I was calling to Hubby, and prepared to run away if Mae (right beside me. gulp.) intervened. And he kicked off the rope. I asked him nicely. We tried to drive him between some trees into the loop. We herded him this way, and that. I prayed, then talked sweetly to him, asking if I could put the rope around his head. No go. We’d chase him under the wire and out of the paddock, but he’d start mooing and hurry back to his mama. And that boy can hurry.
I decided I had a cake to bake, so we gave up for that day. I posted requests on facebook for talented cowboys (or girls), tranquilizer guns, and other things, but nothing came up.
After church the next day, I got Hubby (not terribly thrilled with the idea) to try again. We had about the same (lack of) success. Hubby suggested veal. I called my neighbor (from whom we got 2 of our Jerseys last year) to see if he might have a few corral panels not in use. He did, and he told us where to find them. We went and loaded up 4 old rusty panels, about 8′ wide, 5′ tall. They were held to each other with twists of rusty wire, and some of the feet had rusted out entirely, but it was something! Now all we had to do was set it up, get Hamish into it, and decide whether to deal with him there or tie him up in the pickup to an Undisclosed Location.
We set up the panels in a small square (with one side wide open) in their next paddock before letting the cattle into that section. At this point Hamish wanted nothing to do with me, and both he and Mae were really unimpressed with Hubby. Hubby began to argue, determinedly for veal. Eventually I told Hubby to go home, I’d call him when I had Hamish locked up. He agreed, and I went back to my quieter methods. 🙂
I used an extra strand of electric fence to shorten the paddock, driving Hamish towards the corral part. I tried to keep him separated from Mae, but in the end she again smelled the grain and went into the corral (which barely fit her), and I got Hamish in with her. Not exactly the plan, but I called Hubby anyway. He came, and gave me a look. 🙂 I figured I could use that amazing grain bucket to get Mae out, while Hubby stood near and Hamish stayed in the far corner (both Mae and Hamish had responded with agitation when he came back out). That part actually worked, and I drew Mae to the far end of the paddock with the grain.
[To be continued…]