Our two young human children managed to get a “fall break” from school, so were off Thursday, Friday, and Monday.  5 days without school means an extended farm trip!  Alas, Thursday was tied up with PTA meetings, so we didn’t get out of the house until Friday morning.  That actually worked out fine, since I caught a bit of a stomach flu Wednesday night and wasn’t moving very fast Thursday.  Evia did the PTA thing <smile>.

We were planning on finally harvesting our honey this weekend, and needed storage containers.  I considered mail ordering them, but when I saw a $68 shipping charge, we changed our plans and decided to just run upstate and pick them up.  This cost us about an hour in detour, each way, but time is cheap when your not working.  Anyhow, its always fun to to up to the Dadant facility in Hamilton Ill.  They have been servicing the Bee keeping industry for over 150 years, with the family starting their own practice 175 years and 5 generations ago.  The lady I chatted with there commented:  “The amazing thing is we still talk to each other!”.  They are a friendly group to hang with.  Not much to see if your not into bees though.

From there we headed into Kirksville to buy a banding device.  No… this isn’t for tagging canaries… it is for making bulls into steers via a surgical rubber (but much heavier) tube and clip.  E-mail me if you want details, or go visit http://www.nobull.net Its a quality product and the process takes but a minute or two once you get the bull into a head catch.  Suspect I’ll be talking about it a bit over on our discussion forum http://www.highlandcattleforum.org as well.

We pulled into the farm in the late afternoon, unpacked, got our UTV (much to the joy of Vixen, our dog, who considers the UTV to be her pet and running pal), and ran the dog a bit.  Called it an early evening after having a light meal – I still was not at 100% after that flu bug.  In fact, allowed myself to sleep in a bit Saturday morning too…

Saturday was mixed.  We easily moved the 14 members of our primary herd over onto a new pasture, away from the corral, in anticipating of working the boys.  Didn’t see any new ones, which is disappointing.  Three of our cows are now officially late and none are looking particularly close to giving us this years tribute (new calves that is!).  Took us well over an hour to move the 3 boys, along in their own pasture, up to the coral.  Larry, my personal favorite (and hopefully sold, but the buyer hasn’t provided a deposit yet), was easy.  A handful of cattle cubes and Larry will follow me anywhere.  Half the time he just needs a rub and the cubes become optional.  Nice bull (he is lighter colored one on the right in the photo).  Moe, who he is playing with in the photo (as only two 700lb brothers can play!) took a bit more of encouragement, but since he is also cube trained, it wasn’t too hard.  Curly didn’t respond to the “carrot” approach, so I used the “stick”.  That isn’t as bad as it sounds, basically it just means that rather than getting him to follow me, I had to get behind him and manage his “flight zone” to get him to move in the direction I wanted him to do.  Nothing bad, just me watching him, anticipating where he was about to go, and moving to that side to discourage him from doing so.  Herding behavior for me.  Once he saw his brothers, his herd instinct helped as well.  Helped that I only had to do this for an 1/8th of a mile or so.  Once in the outer corral it wasn’t too bad to get them into the chute runway.  Of course, being three teenage brothers, there was a lot of “Hey, you pushed me!” horseplay (or should that be cowplay?) between them.  Twice with that resulting in 2 of the 3 of them going in to the runway backwards… *sigh*   But boys will be boys.  Curly was a bit uncooperative, clearly he wasn’t happy with the chute, although he had been through it before for vaccinations and deworming.  It took us about 90 minutes to convince him to go in, with lots of effort prying with steel pipe which he mostly ignored.  Larry tried to help by pushing him a number of times… thanks Larry.   He finally got past the palpation cage and entered the chute, only for us to miss with the headgate with him escaping!  Larry was next and was a gentlemen – just a bit of encouragement to get all 4 feet on the scale, measurement complete, and he was free to go.  Alas, he didn’t want to.  We opened the side of the chute and he still wasn’t interested.  Although smaller, I opened the palpation cage door and that did it, he walked out halfway, and decided to nibble some grass.  *sigh*  Alas, nothing yet another cattle cube wouldn’t fix.  Finally it was Moe’s turn.  No problem on the scale, a bit of a pause through the palpation cage, but once he started through the chute he was fine.  This time I got the sequence right and had a fair head catch.  We had to push him back a bit to get things settled.  (Evia and I tried each grabbing a horn and pushing but what eventually worked required a whole body effort:  Picture Kevin with his feet planted, a bull’s head in his stomach, and two arms grabbing onto the front of the chute pulling.  Eventually I won.)  1500 units of Tetanus antitoxin and 2 minutes with the bander and he was done.  Walked out the front of the chute and immediately asked for a cattle cube treat.  Nice boy (technically – in about 2-3 days he will be sterile and 10-30 days from now will officially be a steer.)  Alas, I was getting a bit cold after that, so we came in and cooked ourselves some rib-eyes