Cutting Cattle

On the farm we don’t often have to try cutting cattle, that is, specifically separating part of the herd from the rest. The exception is usually when butcher time comes around, and so it came on last Tuesday. We were taking in two cows and a steer, one of the cows, a really old one, had a little female calf that my father was going to take out of the herd.


Belted Galloways – Photo by my little sisterĀ 

To get the calf we pulled it out with the mother, but after getting mom into the trailer, the calf escaped. Now this was a real problem, if the calf wasn’t bottle fed it could die from lack of nutrition.

Father and I had to leave to take the cattle down to Eureka IL to the butcher, so we decided to take the problem back up when we returned. I suggested to my sister she call Don, a gentleman from the stables she works at. An ex-marine, he’s been working with cattle and horses for years. He’s asked if he could help us before, but it was never necessary, until now.


Don and Tirzah

When we got back they were already walking the horses around the herd, accustoming them to the cattle.

The main difficulty came in trying to determine which calf was the escaped one. Upon reflection it would have been a good idea to tag or spray paint the calf to identify it. The difficulty lies in that this calf, had absolutely no distinguishing characteristics, it looked just like all the other little calves its own age. We sat out there two hours watching the calves, trying to determine which one was our target.


A classic cowboy image – Source

The riders on horseback rode through the herd, patiently waiting, just as any cowboy should. Tirzah, my sister and my dad watched the cattle as the sun started setting, trying to determine which calf wasn’t with a cow to nurse.

Finally, as the day was in it’s final hour, they decided to wait till tomorrow, when the calf would be a little easier to spot. As they were walking and riding back, Teddy, my little brother of five, said, “Did you see the calf over there?” Turning, everyone saw exactly what Ted said, a calf was standing with the herd of steers.


When the calf escaped, it ran to them rather than the cows. Don rode in on his mustang, yes, he actually has a mustang, and roped the calf. We placed her in the her coral and gave her milk replacer. Currently the little calf is enjoying the company of Hiccup and Clove.

Check back next week to hear about Clove.


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