Lessons Learned

Earlier this week I introduced you to our first five cows... This post is to share with you some of the best moments we shared with them. As you recall, I said that we started with six cows... Ernie, Piggy, Dean, Molly, Curly, and Shorty. 

Well, Ernie went down the road rather quickly last summer because, as you can see, he has horns... Having horns isn't a problem. Using horns is. And he knew how to use them! In particular, he knew how to use them to bully all five of the others into doing whatever he wanted. When we purchased them, he cornered all five others into a corner of the pen they were in. I thought it would improve in the field. Nope - especially not at the feed trough! 

The other five stayed with us throughout the summer, fall, and most of the winter. It was our first try with raising cattle to sell for meat, and we learned a lot from the experience!

Things like:
  • Don't try to walk your usually calm cattle down the road and put them in a corral to haul to the butcher. They don't like it. 
  • Oh, and don't leave one in the field while you do it because he will find out how to escape and find his friends. 
  • And - just as a by the way - the two cattle who are supposed to go calmly back into the field after saying goodbye to their buddies will not want to... they prefer running through the woods like wild beasts. (What happened to our friendly little buddies?!)
  • Cows are like fly magnets in the midst of summer... and those gigantic horseflies will not care if you're not a cow, they just want to bite something... so wear substantial amounts of clothing to cover as much of yourself as possible! 
  • Feeding is okay by yourself if your husband is at work, but farming is much more fun together to share in the memories.
  • Learn to gauge by eye approximately how much your cattle weigh... (we definitely learned this the hard way...they were about 300 less than we thought!)
  • Try not to winter feeder cattle -- they get grouchy and eat a lot!
  • Taking your cattle to the butcher isn't fun...but is a part of this whole gig.

But hard lessons aside, we also learned and experienced great things such as: 
  • How incredible it feels to stand in a field in late summer hanging out with your new spouse and just enjoy God's creation and the animals you're stewards over. 

  • How great it feels to hug your cow.
  • How much cows love eating pumpkins!

  • How happy cattle are when they're given room to graze and grow in an all-natural environment. 
  • How pleasurable it is to give your cow a drink from the hose
  • How good it feels to see your cattle line up when they see you coming because they know you're bringing them a treat
  • How much cows love fresh cornstalks... (Molly especially loved these!) (yes, that's supposed to be big because it was a HUGE thing for us last summer :-) )
  • How cows make hilarious faces on a regular basis... and enjoy licking their own nostrils! (See the progressive pictures of Piggy at the end of this post...)
  • How good it feels to sell people meat that we can explain where it came from, what it was fed, and how it was treated. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our "trial run" cattle and they will forever hold a little place in my heart because we learned so much from them.

Piggy with his tongue out...and again, and, oh! There's a camera! And a yawn/tongue out/this is what you get (cow breath) if you're going to stick that camera in my face!

 Below are pictures of our cows enjoying ear corn, pumpkins, oats, and hay. The final picture is of the cows doing their daily ritual - forming a single file line behind Kevin to follow him to the trough for their "treat." Life is good.

I hope you enjoy all the pictures in this post that show you just how much fun we had while raising them, and if you're enjoying some of their meat, we hope you like seeing how content they were!