Thursday, 2 February 2012

Fledgling Farmers Strike Again

I like to think that I know a bit about farming, well some basics anyway.

One of these basics is that it is good farming practise to rotate your stock through a series of paddocks so that you rest the pastures and break the life cycle of some of the nasty bugs and parasites out there.  And with this in mind here begins the story.

At our place this is not really possible as on our 3.5 acres we have just one big 3 acre paddock that we will split up in the future, plus the house yard. 
When we moved in our paddock was being grazed by the neighbours 2 horses as well as grazing their own paddock of 2 acres (there is a gate that joins the properties).  We did not have any need of the grass and so the situation suited us fine.
At the end of  2010 we acquired a calf who we named "Freezer 1" (the name stops an attachment forming and reminds you what the animal is being raised for) who we have been fattening up and will be having butchered just before winter.  So for most of last year she shared her paddock with a couple of horses (that have now been moved elsewhere) and another cow of the neighbours. 
Because we plan to keep our supply of meat going we figured we had better get another calf no ready for next year, so now we have "Freezer 2" as well.  Coincidentally our neighbour had just picked up a couple of calves as well so now there is a merry herd of 4
Two weeks ago they were all locked in the neighbours paddock to give ours a rest and with all the rain we have been having the grass has really grown.  Then one day we were chatting with the neighbour across the road and he said we were welcome to put the cows in his paddock for a few weeks as the grass was over knee height and needed to be eaten or he would have to get it slashed.
Well you don't have to offer that twice.  So I spoke to the 1st neighbour about moving his cows with ours and asked for assistance in moving them.  We had to get them out of our paddock across and up the street about 40 metres and into the paddock across the road.
All good in theory.

The three calves followed me up the street (might have been that I was luring them with hay) and basically went into the paddock across the road one after the other.  "Freezer 1" how ever was having none of it.  She came out the gate with the others then decided that she really did prefer the comfort of home and jumped the fence straight back into the paddock she had just walked out of.  We tried to chase her out a second time but she was getting wound up and agitated so we figured we would leave her be.
"Hey where are you three going?  That's not home"
There was far too much going on to be taking photos so you will have to put up with my MS Paint pictures.

The 3 calves were happily munching away on the long grass and "Freezer 1" was looking at them longingly over the fence.  Then the mooing started.  It was clear that she wanted to be with them, but by now all of our helpers had gone home and it was 6pm. 
Hubby and I just looked at each other.  Do we risk it, just the two of us, trying to move "Freezer 1" to the others without letting the three of them back out?

"Moooo I miss yooooou"
Of course we do.  Yes we set ourselves up for the fall, took the risk, played with fire and all of that.

"Freezer 1" walked out the gate and crossed the road, then she crossed back again, and then back to the other side, up and down the fence line, she was getting agitated, and back across the road again, oh god she's just going to jump the fence again. 
Right then I had visions of us chasing a mad cow through the night up and down the street and then the three calves getting out oh my goodness what have we done....

So we stood back watching her watching us and let her calm down.
And then as if it was no trouble what so ever she calmly walked over the road and through the gate to join the others.

They now have 3 weeks to eat as much as they can and calm down before we have to move them all back again.  Hopefully they will recognise home and wander back calmly and quietly, I will have to let you know.
What I do know however is that we need to get our 3 acres divided up and soon.  That way we can rotate our animals with a little less stress, for both them and us.


  1. Great story Fi! At one stage we only had one lonely poddy and he got out twice before we realised that he needed a friend (and droppers on the fence wires between the posts) to keep him at home. Both escapes involved chasing him up and down the relatively busy road, worried that he's take off down to the highway! You don't realise when they're little how difficult they can be when they get big and don't want to do what you say. Its not like you can just put a collar and leash on them and walk them down the road.

    And I wanted to say what great neighbours you have! Separately you probably don't have quite enough land, but together you can make it work, that's really nice.

  2. Isn't it great to see neighbours working together! Love the pictures.

  3. Sounds like a great little adventure...i really hope they come back easier for you!!
    We have 8 acres we have to slash soon as the grass is jumping out of the ground now...shame we don't have neighbours like yours!!

  4. Great neighbours - and great stick figures Fiona!

  5. Love the pictures! We are on 5 acres, and have fences everywhere so we can rotate grazing (of course, we still don't have both shade _and_ water in most of the paddocks, so it's still a mess...) We bucket trained our cattle to make moving them easier - it's not foolproof, but it does work most of the time, and 1 person can move the animals alone if *really* necessary. We don't even need feed in the buckets now. On the down side, I do get trampled every time I take a bucket of feed to the chooks....


I'd love to hear your thoughts...
Thanks for taking the time to comment