Chapter 6, Hay Hay Hay Ring
I realize it’s been awhile, a LONG while, since I’ve written the next chapter of this story. You see, farmers have very little down time (something I learned very quickly last year). I have about 3 chapters or so left of the story and my goal is to complete them before ‘busy season’ starts up again. Guess I’d better hurry!
Chapter 6 begins in January of 2012. There is still no snow on the ground and the cattle are out and about enjoying life. The month before, we had built a corral in front of the barn in hopes to get them in. Different game plan now – we re-arranged the corral panels (they’re heavy too!), moving the opening of the corral to the side of the barn. We had hoped the cattle would come into the side pasture, and eventually meander into the corral to seek shelter. Of course there was no reason to seek shelter, as the weather continued to be beautiful. Mother Nature is a hard act to follow sometimes.
The corral is in place – so now what do we do. One beautiful Saturday in early January, 3 of the boys, their significant others, their friends and their significant others join us at the farm. They brought along with them 3 4-wheelers, some hand-held radios and their good humor. Seth, John & Tiny headed out on the wheelers. The rest of us waited at the barn. Radios in hand, we waited. And waited. And waited. Finally we heard from Seth – they had spotted the beefalo. Unfortunately the beefalo had spotted them as well and took off. The guys came back after awhile – discouraged to say the least. Since we had such a crew of people, and the weather was beautiful, and it was just after the Christmas and New Year holidays – we all decided to hike up into the woods to see if we could herd them (well find them first, then herd them) down towards the barn. It was a great day for a hike, and hike we did! Some of us even ended up closer to the town of Belmont instead of the farm! No sightings while we hiked, but I must say it was a fun day being out in the woods with family and friends.
We bought a hay ring the next day and placed it at the top of the side pasture. We knew they still had plenty of grass to eat, but we kept hoping they would run out of it and when they did, we wanted to be ready with some hay. After a few days of the ring being in place, we discovered the hay inside the ring looked like it has been disturbed, AND there was cow plops beside the ring! YES YES YES! They had discovered the hay. We finally felt like, just maybe we were making progress.
On January 18th, we headed to Los Angeles to visit son Sean, and were anxious about leaving. But we knew there was nothing we could do but wait for the beefalo to decide their next move. So off to LA we went. On the 2nd day of our vacation, I received a text from daughter-in-law Kristen. The text read: “drove by the farm on my way to work and saw ALL of the cattle laying around the hay ring”. Well let me tell you – we were some kinda happy! Yes, we know they weren’t inside our corral – but they were within sight, eating OUR hay! We continued getting texts each day from Kristen telling us they were there.
We got home from LA on the 25th. The next day, we moved the hay ring closer to the barn and did so every few days (sneaky, right?!), until the hay ring was inside the corral. The beefalo continued to eat from the ring, never when we were around – but we knew they were eating.
On February 1st, I was riding by the farm with some friends and co-workers. I’m sitting in the back seat .. it was a very dreary, rainy, misty day. As we drove past the farm, I looked at the corral. This is something we did ALL the time – we were always looking, waiting to spot any sign of the beefalo. Anyway, as we drove by I saw something. I told the driver to stop and back up – and when we did I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. ALL OF THEM WERE INSIDE THE CORRAL!! Not only were they inside, they were comfortably lying down! Like making themselves to home! I knew there was no way I could close the corral gate, as the minute we would pull into the farm, they would have taken off. So I simply went home, called Kevin at work and broke the news to him. We breathed a sigh of relief to some extent – we knew we had work ahead of us to actually get them in, but it was starting to feel more promising than before. That day marked day #201 of our cattle being out on their own.