Well, it has been almost eleven months since we moved to Green Acres and there is one thing that has been proven over and over. There is nothing quite like country folk. They do everything in their power to help out their neighbors.
We have done our share of testing the quality of our fencing, our pens, and even our cattle guard….which, it turns out, was merely viewed as a bridge by our cattle! We have had two sets of escapee cattle and one set of escapee pigs since we moved to our ranch, but on all three occasions, our neighbors have been remarkably kind, accommodating, and helpful. They have actually contacted us to let us know where our animals are located because they “guessed” it was our cows and pigs that they had on their property. How embarrassing. We must even LOOK like “city slickers”. Except they don’t make us feel badly at all. They have reassured us that it is commonplace in this neck of the woods. It is almost impossible to reach perfection in your ability to fence and pen up new livestock. Most of the time, you are purchasing the livestock from local auctions so you do not know the fencing they are accustomed to or what they have, perhaps, escaped from in the past.
As of four days ago, we have a runaway bull calf that is hanging out two pastures over on one of our friend’s grazing land. In a wonderful gesture of grace, they told us to go ahead and allow him to settle down and get used to being away from his momma before we try to bring him back to our ranch. What a relief. It is so good to know that they aren’t irritated by the fact he went searching for his momma and ended up on their property the night the moon was so bright it was practically like daylight all night long. We heard him bellowing and did not think he could get through our fence even though he is rather small. The next morning, we drove around and located him not one, but two pastures over from our back pasture.
Keeping our cattle on the ranch has not been our only issue. When I posted “Lost: The Three Little Pigs” on the Lexington Facebook page a week ago, many people responded and told me where and when they had seen them so that we knew which direction they had gone. Even after three days of being lost, people were still responding and asking whether or not they had been found because, like me, they were concerned that they would be mistaken for the wild pigs in the area which are frequently hunted. Thank goodness, our neighbors about a half mile down recognized the fact that they were domesticated when they noticed them hanging out with their dogs. They called us and then helped us chase them, capture them, and put them, against their “piggy will” apparently, into the cattle trailer. It took two tries in two days to accomplish the goal, but the neighbors were kind to let them stay an extra day until they settled down for another try.
Our dream is to one day be “locals” who can help out newbies in the ranching business. We have certainly learned a lot from the local ranchers and never grow tired of the methods and advice they give us to help make ranching easier, less expensive, and more profitable in the long run. It will be a wonderful feeling to be able to pass on the advice we have been given by the local experts who have been so gracious and helpful concerning the myriad of questions I have bombarded them with during the local auction each Saturday. I am so thankful for their knowledge and their help.
Some of the things I have learned are as follows:
Pink Eye: Sneak up on the cows and throw table salt in their eye. (I have done this twice now and it works!)
Acorns: They will kill a cow, but donkeys and pigs can eat them to their heart’s content. Who knew?
Udders: Must be the correct size or the calf can’t nurse from them.
Taming the herd: Bring them in frequently with feed so they will learn to trust you.
Purchasing cattle: Buy in the winter when everyone is selling due to grass shortages.
The local ranchers have shared of wealth of advice with me since we purchased Green Acres. They are happy and willing to share their knowledge with anyone who will listen. I am definitely listening, folks, to these amazing men who have literally made a living and a life out of raising cattle. In addition to the information I have been taught concerning cattle, many of the local country folk have given us things we needed for our house, welcomed us to the community, and made us feel like we are home.
We ARE home.