Tomorrow is the day for the two steers slaughter, and I am feeling sad already. I just came back from putting them back onto the hayfield, and what a sight- Nillo and Ochre and Lola were sprinting like barrel horses racing around the hay bales, playing tag across the field, mooing at each other when they stopped for a second, then bucking like broncos as they repeated their antics- 100% pure JOY in being happy cows on a drizzly evening in their most favorite space. Boon even did a bit of his lurching run-gallop after them, I was astounded to watch his extremely smooth gait as he sailed like a Paso Fino across the turf. He also performed an impressive attack on a round bale who must have been yelling TORO at him or something, he almost tossed the 800 lb thing in the air! This was one of the most special times to witness, and probably the most beautiful and memorable highlight of my time with my Highlands so far. I thought briefly how I wish I could have had my camera to make a video, but you know, the most sacred moments are not meant to be captured but absorbed and relished, and then I can tell you about them in words and you can imagine it for yourself.
These steers have come SUCH a long way from being ragamuffin wild things to lustrously healthy and happy, and I’d even say docile, boys. They have been so good and have been such a positive experience for me as I learn about cattle. I’ll miss them being here, but I am so honored to have given them a wonderful life on this farm, where they had Lola as their little sister who showed them the way. Frequently I’ve see her and Ochre grooming each other, and they usually would lay down and chew cud together in the afternoons. I know Lola will really miss them too, but I have good news, she has a new playmate on the way soon, I think. Ruby’s got some changes happening on her backside; a more poochy vulva was spotted as I walked behind her up to the hayfield. She looks magnificent, and her right side is really swollen out in a bigger bulge, soooooo fingers crossed, stars be with us, universe do as you see fit, but please allow Ruby to calf her baby without complications, please please please.
This happy cow evening was especially wondrous after the morning’s event. As I rushed to complete all my chores before heading out on deliveries I thought “you know, instead of living in fear that the cows are getting out, I am going to trust that things are ok.” And then, right then, a strange truck pulled into the driveway, and I hollered hello out the egg room window as a little lady climbed from the drivers seat. She said, are you the one with those cows, and she motioned horns with her hands (hilarious) and I said “Oh shit, are they in the road?” No, she said, the fence was down though, and I yelled some expletives and said thank you so much as I ran out, and she followed me saying she could help, but I ran fast down the blacktop road towards the cows, which I could see where still in the paddock, in the ditch, but the fence was slack and on the ground around them. My good cows! I started setting it straight and then followed the perimeter and found that the polywire was ripped in half on the other side. That’s a new one. As I tried to figure out what to do, I was thinking what happened? It wasn’t a tangled mess and most of the fence was still in place on the posts, but for the cows to have broken the polywire must mean something spooked them. Maybe that bear that’s in the area? I unplugged the fence and set it back up by tying the broken wire ends together, then re-plugged it in and had to go. As I drove around to my ten deliveries in the cities I was thinking again, don’t be full of fear about the cows getting out, just get these deliveries done and get back home to the cows.
Something must have spooked them, they were in basically the same spot when I got home. I opened up the hayfield pasture back up ( I’d taken them off it on Saturday so my neighbor Chris could unload 24 round bales on it, my eat-and-poop-where-I-want-the-fertility plan is in action!) and also a small section of grazing by the pavillion so as to facilitate the on-farm butcher’s arrival tomorrow. I hope and envision, and hopefully am also manifesting, that the herd will be up by the pavilion tomorrow when he arrives, partaking in the lush and delicious grass there. Mike will aim his gun and fire one shot at the first steer, who will fall immediately, and then the second. The other three cows will jog off at the strangeness of things, and I will put the electric fence wire across the path to keep them from returning to the scene. Mike will sever the jugular veins and the steers will bleed out. Life is beautiful and precious, but we all die in the end. My cows could just be pets, but then I would have ten families denied of the meat from these beautiful, happy and healthy creatures. Being a farmer of this sort means having an intense love and a stewardship feeling over the creatures in my care, but knowing that each of us has a role to play in this world.
This Odeza album is beautiful, crank it up and let the sound wave over you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmdP5U2o-as
Thank you to Susie J who took the photo of me and the cows when she and Ernie came out for dinner.