The cows are at it again! Earlier this week a neighbor called Annmarie at work to tell her our cows were out. This happens a few times a year. I cannot believe that it only happens to us. I had a more flexible schedule that day so I went home during the day and spent three hours herding cows back to our pasture. The first thing that must happen before the cows can be retrieved is to figure out their escape hole and fix it. It does you no good to get them if you don’t plug the hole first. The bull tried to get under the panel crossing the front runoff ditch but it is wired in place on top and bottom. He couldn’t get it to move, favorite technique denied!

This prompted him to try out his second favorite technique, which is opening the gate. He will try and lift it off its hinges or push/pull it open. He managed to tear the gate latch out of the post. I had merely stapled the chain into the post with three 2.5 inch long staples. He just pulled them out of the wood and off the cows went. The crazy part is they went into the section I am building a new fence around. If I can get more fence up they will just break into the next fenced in area and will be stuck. No more calls at work from neighbors. I wrapped the chain around the entire post and tied it together. He will now have to rip the post out of the ground to get through the gate.

I drove the mistress up to the end of the property and brought both border collies with me. We were told the cows were in the neighbors green alfalfa field, which is a common destination. I tooled up there but didn’t see the cows so I went up the creek, on the road, with the dogs hoping to spot the cows. They were hiding at the far end of the suspected field by some out buildings. So the dogs and I drove back to the entry point of the field. I had to wait for Zeke to catch up so Mouse and I took a breather. We all calmly and slowing made our way to the creekside of the field. It is no longer an alfalfa field. It’s a grass field now. I kept a tight verbal reign on the dogs. They did very well. Annmarie had some issues with a Mouse and had to do the dominance choke. He listened better. We have learned that working with pack behavior and using the tools the dogs use on each other allows us to maintain our alpha leader status and the dogs understand us. Mouse does not like to stay in one place while I drive off a few hundred yards. Zeke will stay and guard a gate opening if told. This caused a little problem but I got the cows back into the correct lot. I was told that night this is a direct cause of us not feeding every day. Unfortunately, she is right. We have very little grass left and what little there is is dead. So now every evening we are feeding about 1/3 of what they would get in the winter and it is keeping them happy. I really need to put both cow herds together but I want to tag and band the new baby first. So hopefully next weekend. I had to go back to work and finish making up for lost time. Annmarie had to do all the evening chores.

The upper hillside is an issue now. It was one of the earlier stretches of fence I built. All these early attempts have some “learning curve issues”. I tried to use T-posts but the hillside is just too rocky in places so I built rock cribs instead. They are too small and very ugly. The cows are pulling them over just by pushing on the fence. This is happening to the T-posts also. In the picture above the fence looks fairly upright. I broke a T-post and several other posts are fragile and about half the wires are disconnected and loose. It needs to be repaired. I am going to have to go with the tried and true method. I bend a 16 foot cow panel into a circle, nail a large post to one side and then fill the crib with rocks. This takes about 25 loads of rocks with the tractor. All those rocks have to be knocked out of the ground then placed in the bucket and then dumped into the crib. Before I put these cribs on a hillside I like to attempt to create a flat spot for them so they don’t slide down the hillside.

Thursday I managed to get 1.75 cribs installed alongside the fence. Collecting the rocks is the most labor intensive side of the process. This also helps me in the long run as I pull the rocks out of the pasture to use in the fence line. I have some help lined up to help me on Saturday. I would like to be done with that hillside fence this weekend.

This is the gate area near the top of the fence. You can see the cows are just pulling the rock cribs over. I need to level this gate crossing, level a rock crib pad and install a real metal gate. This has to all be done in one day so the animals don’t escape. Once the upper rock crib is complete I can restretch the fence going up the hillside.