Category Archives: Humor

Horse Training

Since my last blogpost I’ve had some discussion about what I meant by being late with my horse. I really enjoy studying about horsemanship and being the best person I can be for my horses. The style of horse training that I like uses words like pressure and release or make it his idea or make the wrong thing difficult. There is no force in there and you are not making your horse do something.
You can be late in a variety of ways with a horse. Say you are lunging out on the end of the line, if your horse wants to take a shortcut and come in and crowd you instead of staying out at the end of the rope he will tip his nose or bend his neck or place his inside foot a bit closer to you before he actually comes in. When he does this you can liven up and put pressure on him to stay out before he actually comes in and your timing would be perfect, not late. If you’ve started the horse to understand to move away from you when you liven up or bring pressure, it will be an easy thing for him to understand. There would be no contact of any kind from you but your body position and stance would bring all the pressure that was needed.

When I was really young I witnessed a man discipline a stud horse in a way that stuck with me to this day. He had the horse restrained in a corner and was really working him over with a whip! I got so mad and upset I decided if that’s how you have to handle horses I wanted nothing to do with them. Thankfully that is not how its supposed to be done. You can be firm without being mean, and horses will respond willingly to you if you speak their language.

Here are a couple videos I did of Bob and what we are currently working on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR5Hrs4EXyM

And this one is Bob under saddle.

https://youtu.be/xKowI6Pe9MI

 

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Horses, You Gotta Love ‘Em

 

Last fall I decided to get a new horse. The horse I normally use is getting old and has developed some stiffness in his joints so I thought it was time to quit riding him. I don’t know about you but I tend to make a list of all the traits I want in a new purchase of anything. The top of the list was cow bred, meaning he had to have working cow horse bloodlines. When you use a horse that will watch a cow and then get on one that won’t you might as well be on foot! I shopped around for a few weeks and found a gelding close by from a breeder that I trust. He was younger than I really wanted but everything else about him fit my criteria really well so I bought him.

I wanted to share some of my experiences with him so maybe you could learn from my mistakes and save yourself some time. This horses name is Bob and they sold him to me as green broke. I figured that would be no problem because I have started several horses and got with them really well. The problem was I hadn’t started a colt in a few years and time can cloud your memory just a bit. Bob is really a good minded horse and really wants to please, He’s a quick learner and really easy on the eyes.

Since I hadn’t ridden a young horse in a while I handled him just like I would if I was riding my old horse and he really did fine with that for a while. One day while I was just sitting up there being a passenger Bob’s attention was a quarter mile away on something other than me. I finally realized he was tensing up and getting nervous because of where I was riding him but I was really late and he was really bothered. A horse kinda needs to know that you are looking out for him and we hadn’t developed that bond yet. All of the sudden my dog ran out of the timber toward me and the horse with about 40 calves running after her! Wreck fixing to happen! Do you remember the movie Smokey and the Bandit where Jackie Gleason wore the blood pressure monitor that would beep faster as his pressure went up? Bob’s was on a maxed out constant tone! Well he bolted and I thought no problem I’ll just reach down with my left hand and pull one rein up and bend him to a stop. Simple right? Done it a hundred times on other horses. The problem was I hadn’t taught Bob how to bend to a stop so he went into a spin that that a professional rained cow horse would be proud of at about a hundred miles per hour! Well I’m using my reins and my seat position and my voice and anything else I can think of to try and get control of the situation and here comes the dog. Now the dog is a working cow dog and she thinks she wants to heel the horse while we are in this wild spin. Now folks I get dizzy on a merry-go-round so by now I’m trying to pick things out and focus but I’m about to fall off from dizziness. You’ve gotta picture this in your mind, the horse is spinning, the dog is nipping him as his heels go by, I’m getting sea sick and the calves are all stopped watching the show by now. I finally yelled at the dog and the horse stopped for a second and then bolted off again. This time I thought hey, I’ll grab the right rein and maybe that will unwind me, wrong! I finally got the dog downed because in the excitement of things I couldn’t remember the command? I let Bob lope out a few hundred feet and then gathered him up without much of a problem, then I just sat there for a few minutes until my head stopped spinning.

I know I did a lot of things wrong in this scenario and since then Bob has easily spooked anytime we ride in this area understandably. Since I don’t know the guy who started him originally I decided to restart him with the kind of feel that I am accustomed to. I really like Bill Dorrance’s approach to getting with a horse by asking him to move one foot at a time on the ground. I have been doing groundwork and riding with a lot more purpose and asking him constantly to keep is attention on me and his response has been fantastic. I hope to share more with you as I get farther along with him.

I’d love to hear your horse experiences! Until next time, happy trails and pen your dog before you ride your colt.

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Bonnie and Clyde

It was just an average February day when my neighbor called and asked me to help him pen his calves up off the wheat grass. We had caught them all in the smaller pasture a few days before and shut the gate on them, so we had about 47 head of 900 pound calves on about about 12 acres. I say about 47 head because no one had been able to get a count on them since we turned em out last fall… For some reason this bunch was wild, probably in the genetics. I’m just guessing, but wild and crazy cows bred to wild and flighty bulls produce calves that are… well, you get the picture. Anyway, each time we tried to count them and get closer than about 150 yards all you could see was their tails going over the hill. Neighbor had put hay in the catch pen and they were used to coming in for feed and water, so it looked like an easy deal.

Day 1. The plan was to go in with the feed truck like normal and dump a bunch of cubes in the troughs, and when they all ran in to eat we’d shut the gate. So we proceeded to execute this well thought out strategy, and about 15 head would not enter the pen. After some deliberation we decided to try em again tomorrow.

Day 2. He called and said he had em all in but 2, (enter Bonnie and Clyde) and we were gonna move what we had because the truck was coming in a few days to pick them all up. We trailered them 12 or so at a time up to the sorting pens where we could sort and load when the big truck came in a few days.

Day 3. He put out cubes and more hay in the pen and pulled the gates nearly closed to allow a quick close and catch when Bonnie and Clyde came in the pen.

Day 4. The cubes were all eaten and the hay was partially gone, but there were no calves to be seen. Evidently they snuck in after dark and made a quick getaway before dawn.

Day 5. He drove the feed truck around the small pasture until he saw them and doled out some cubes hoping they would follow. They just stood there facing the truck, and if he got too close they turned to run. Cattle 5: Cowboys 0.

Day 6. Decided to leave them alone for a day to allow them to calm down a little and they would surely come in. Bonnie and Clyde

Today is day 7. They are standing along the horse pen fence as far away from the catch pen as possible, and the truck comes tomorrow.

It’s always interesting working with critters, especially when they decide to be ornery. Back years ago they called them renegades,  bad outlaws, or brutes… They wrote songs about how the ole black steer had stood his ground against punchers from everywhere and would take bets as to whether the next cowboy would be able to or not.

As for Bonnie and Clyde? Stay tuned.

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Cowboy vs Vacuum

Sometime back when the in-laws were out of town, we decided to go clean their house. Having two women in my house that are extremely efficient and major planners and myself being very task oriented, we drew up a flochart and headed to their house. This house is only a few years old and has a lot of modern things in it, like wood floors with area rugs, open design from room to room, and a central vac. The first thing we had to do was receive our marching orders. We found what looked like 100 feet of hose with a brush head attached to it, and my wife looked at it, then looked at me and said “you think you can run that?”. I straightened up with my shoulders back and said, “I can operate any machine made!” . Now, the first thing I had to do was go around until I found a little hole in the wall with a flap over it to plug the hose in to. Right away I’m seeing a design flaw, because when I plugged it in the thing started up. I mean suction, brush turning, the whole nine yards! There was no switch on the handle to be able to shut it off… (this will come into play later). Now I’m not saying that it never had a switch on it, because it did have some non original duct tape around the handle which I’m sure was the handy work of my father-in-law. But we won’t go there. Ok, so I’m going around from room to room dragging a hundred feet of hose with duct tape on it and holding the brushes up off the wood floor, just looking for things to vacuum. Under the dining room table was a big area rug, so I proceeded to run the brush head over it. Now up to this point everything was going fine; the rug was looking good and you could see those fresh brush marks that make it look freshly cleaned, and it looked really good. When I finished with that I picked it up, still running, because I wasn’t near the hose connection to shut it off. As I was walking by the dining room chairs, there was a new white blouse hanging on the back of one of the chairs. It was hung by one of those flimsy plastic hangers that come with new clothes. I was holding the vaccum head side ways so it would be easier to carry, when all of the sudden I heard a loud snap. A piece of that plastic hanger caught my eye as it shot up in the air, and then I heard the brushes slowing and the vaccum starting to pull down, (kind of like when you get too much grain in the feed grinder and you have to wait a minute for it to catch up) only the vacuum wasn’t catching up. I looked around just in time to see the collar of that white blouse slowly disappearing into the brush head. In the heat of the moment I made a split-second decision to grab the blouse instead of running to unplug the vacuum. I threw it down on the floor,  got my boot on it’s neck, and grabbed hold of the shirt which the brushes were still knawing on. As I tugged and pulled I made some headway, and the vacuum kept making loud hissing noises. Just as I finished pulling the last bit of the black streaked blouse from the brushes, my wife walked around the corner with her mouth hanging open. I held up the blouse to asess the damage, and like any good husband would do I said, “I have no idea how this happened…”.

I decided to add it to my blog sort of as a public service, bcause I think those things need warning lables all over them. Here are some I came up with.

Caution: Do not use around pets or small children!

Warning: Vacuum can suck the clothes right out of your closet!

Hide your women; hide your kids!

Warning: Must be trained in rescue missions before using this machine!

Feel free to comment with another phrase you think would go well here.

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Cowboys, Sisters and Mules

Well now that’s an interesting title!  When I was about 9 years old my cousin acquired a mule, and word quickly got around that no one could ride her. My sister (who I trusted with my life) and I devised a plan to not only ride the mule, but tame her down where anybody could easily catch her and ride her with ease in a matter of hours. We went down to my cousin’s house, and they already had her caught. We proceeded to saddle her and put a bit in her mouth, which all went pretty well. Next the plan was for me to get in the saddle. My sister was going to lead her around until she was ready and then hand me the reins. Now the bridle we were using was evidently shipped over on the Mayflower and had considerable deterioration do to its age. I got on, and Becky (my sister) was holding the reins. All was going according to the plan, and I had just picked up the off stirrup when the mule pulled back hard. As Becky braced herself, one shank of the bit snapped right in half. For a split second we all looked at the broken bit, and fear started to rise in both of us. Did you know that fear has a smell? It does, and mules are keenly aware of it! Next the mule slung her head hard to the side, and the other rein snapped off right next to the shank. Note: always check your gear to make sure it’s in good repair. Now the mule was starting to implement her own plan as she took off in a dead run down the driveway. When she came to the end of the drive she banked hard to the left and headed toward the main road with me in tow. My sister and my aunt were running after me; one was yelling “hang on!” and the other was yelling “jump off!”. Their house was on a dead end road, so imagine my surprise when I looked up and saw a semi truck coming down the middle of the road toward me and the mule. The mule was in the middle of the road also, and the thought occurred to me that she was playing chicken with the semi. Now at a canter or a trot mules are rough and bouncy to ride, but at a full run down a gravel road they are actually pretty smooth, just in case you ever need to know that. I was trying to decide how much time I had before impact when for some reason I dropped the stirrups and pulled my feet up like a jockey. Then the truck driver laid on his air horn like maybe I didn’t see him or something, and I jumped. I went right, the mule went left, and the semi came rolling on right down the middle and just kept on going. The guy was probably laughing so hard he couldn’t find the brakes. Did I mention that my aunt took driving lessens from Mario Andretti? Well, I’m laying in the ditch trying to figure out which direction is up, and then I hear the V-8 in her pick-up scream to life as she came sideways around the corner of the drive without slowing down. Well as she is fast approaching and still fishtailing in the gravel, I thought I better get up before she runs over me. She ground it to a halt, and they checked me over real good. They decided I wasn’t hurt, and that was the end of the mule training session.

I never saw that mule again. I don’t know if they caught her or not; we never really talked about it. One of my classmates’ dad still calls me “mule skinner” to this day because of that story. In case you are wondering it was Mule:1 cowboy:0 that day.

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Magneto and Kid

When I was a little boy, my parents owned a tractor business; they sold and traded and worked on all kinds of equipment. I’m guessing I was about 5 or 6 years old when dad gave me a magneto out of a tractor. He told me it had a “short” in it and I could play with it. Well, when I wasn’t painting something, (my favorite thing to do at the store) or getting into trouble some other way, I was playing with the mag. I was fascinated with it. It had a steel shaft that you could spin and a long copper wire that would zap anything that was conductive, including people, when you spun the shaft. I quickly learned what a “short” was, because when you were twisting the shaft to get up sufficient rpm’s produce an electrical shock through the wire and kept contact with the shaft too long, it would zap you through the shaft. This was an art at which I was intent on mastering! This was very similar to the one I had; it weighed about 10 pounds.

Magneto

Magneto

Dad had a mechanic named Shorty that worked there, so I decided I would practice on him. You couldn’t just walk up to someone, attach the wire to their exposed skin, and hold and spin a ten pound mag while they stood there patiently waiting for a high voltage zap. So I had to be creative. In his spare time, dad had Shorty working on building a new trailer. At this point the frame was complete, and they had rubber tires on it. So, it wasn’t grounded. Perfect! I waited til Shorty was ready to work on the trailer, and as he was welding on the front of it I crawled under the back and attached my wire to the bare metal and spun the mag. He immediately stopped welding and pulled his hood up, rubbed his arm, checked his ground clamp, and put his hood back down. As he started to weld again I put a quick spin on the mag. He dropped the stinger, threw off his hood, and I learned some new four letter words that day. I never have figured out how he knew I was back there…maybe I giggled too loud? After that, Shorty and I came to an understanding, and I had to find another target.

One day, dad was sitting in front of the office on a couch talking to a man about buying a new tractor, and I thought hey, this has possibilities. The couch was sitting up against the office wall, and the wall was hollow. It was a 2×4 stud wall with wood paneling on the outside of it. Anyway, dad was talking  (for what seemed like forever) to this guy, and I was climbing all over the couch and bumping into him. Just messing around, like any boy my age was bound to do. After a while, dad leaned back and locked his fingers behind his head. It was a warm day, and he had on a short sleeve shirt. I had the mag laying on the couch and held the wire up on the tender underside of his bare arm, sort of opposite his bicep, and spun the mag. There was a picture hanging above dad’s head on the wall. When the shock hit him I guess his reflexes kicked in, cause he hit that wall hard with his fist; that’s when the picture fell down and conked him on the head. The wall, being hollow, made a really loud bang when he hit it, and after the picture fell, the customer and dad and I all just sat there for a few seconds trying to grasp what had happened. (I had a better idea than anyone else did…) Then the customer busted out laughing, and that was my cue to make a fast getaway. Dad stood up and hung the picture back where it belonged and sat back down to finish the deal with the guy, and I didn’t stick around to find out if he made the sale or not. I am assuming he did, because I never got in trouble for that stunt. However, my mag disappeared that day and I never saw it again.

Needless to say, I was very careful what I gave my kids to play with. I am a little apprehensive about posting this because my dad will probably read it and I may get in trouble yet.

 

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Don’t Forget Your Belt

There seems to be an unwritten rule around our place that in order to load cattle there must be a row of troughs down the middle of the pen, and the pen must be muddy; at least ankle deep. A few years ago the wise man scheduled a shipping date for some rangy steers that had been out on rye-grass for the past 4 months. If you have spent any time at all around cattle that have been on green grass as a primary diet, you know not to get within 10 feet of their rear end or you could become a poster child for all natural green fertilizer…if you know what I mean. And buddy they have a good aim! In this particular group of calves, there were about 60 head. We were trying to move them from the large catch pen (the one with the troughs) into the smaller loading pen to be able to get them into the trailer. It looked something like this: 60 excited steers, a long row of troughs, Wise Man on one side of the troughs, and me on the other.

Feed troughs in the middle

Feed troughs in the middle

When you start to move cattle into a smaller pen, they usually go pretty well the first time. The idea is to be quick and efficient. Get them where you want them, and close the gate fast. Simple, right? Well, this particular day just happened to fall just as The Wise Man was coming off of a diet. He’d been on the diet for a few months, and I don’t think he realized just how much weight he had lost. Knowing that the steers would be excited and taking a squirt at us every now and then, we always wear old clothes. Evidently this pair of jeans that Wise Man had on were some of his pre-diet big boy jeans. As we start to move the calves down both sides, the front calves had found the hole and were starting to string into the loading pen. Everything was going well until a few steers circled by, missed the hole, and started to come back toward us. No problem, this happens sometimes. Just hold your position on your side of the troughs moving quickly from side to side so they don’t get by you, and turn them back toward the gate. They came on my side first, and I was able to move around quickly enough to turn ’em back. Next they came on Wise Man’s side, and then on both sides at once. I was holding my own and turning them back when out of the corner of my eye I noticed steers running by on Wise Man’s side, and we lost the whole bunch. Even the ones who had found the gate into the smaller pen had run back out and were coming past on his side. As the last few steers were running past him, I noticed that he was just standing there. He didn’t even  throw his hands up. It was kind of like he was just waiting on them to all get by. That’s when my eyes were drawn to this bright white object, sort of like a flag of surrender. Then I realized it was his underwear. Yep, there he was in the middle of the muddy lot with his pants down around his ankles. I just looked on with amazement, and lots of thoughts ran through my mind…  I heard myself say, “What are you trying to do, flash them?!”. He quickly grabbed his pants and got them back up around his waist, but this time he kept one hand on his pants to hold them up. As we started the calves, (now a bit wary as to where they are supposed to go) Wise Man is hazing them by holding out his left hand then quickly bringing it to his pants so he can free up his right hand . It took a long time time to get the cattle in that day, and since then we have added a new rule. Don’t forget your belt!

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Penny the Calf Goes to College

A few years ago I was wanting to increase my herd size quickly, so I bought some bred heifers from a ranch up near Perry. After getting them home and making sure they were doing well I introduced them to the rest of the cows in the herd with no problems at all. Cattle will sometimes butt heads and fight for dominance when together for the first time. When they were close to calving, I moved them into the calving pen with a few others. One cow in particular seemed to want to take on the whole herd and was fighting about 3 at a time, that’s when I herd a loud pop and down she went. I put out some feed and went over to her. She got up but held her right hind leg off the ground, she could move but would put no weight on it. I called wise man Fil for advice and he suggested calling the OSU vet teaching hospital. We made an appointment, she loaded in the trailer easily enough, and we were off. Once we arrived and checked in, they got her inside and did an evaluation. Several students and a staff DVM looked her over and came to talk to me before they proceeded. They gave me about 5 different reasons why this may not work and 1 reason that it might, and then asked if I would like to proceed and I told them to go for it. After putting her under they proceeded to wrap her leg with vet wrap while holding huge pieces of cotton next to her leg. After they got it padded up really well, they brought in a 4″ piece of thick PVC pipe about 30″ long and cut it in half long ways. They heated and bent the pipe to go over her hock and flared it at the top to keep from rubbing her skin. Then, they got something like athletic tape and taped both halves in a splint around her leg. On the bottom they took something similar to epoxy and put it all over one half of her hoof and then waited for her to come around. When she came to, her leg was stiff and she had a big plastic foot. She couldn’t seem to get up on the slick concrete floor. The vet really wanted her to get up so she would know that she was capable of standing. Wise man Fil got in front of her and raised his voice and did all he could to make her stand, but she would just get up on her knees and try to charge him. We finally wound up rolling her onto a pad and dragging the pad up a ramp into the trailer. The girl vet students would pet her and say soothing words that seemed to calm her some, but if she even heard the wise man talking she would get a glare in her eye. When we got home I parked the truck and trailer in the lot, opened the trailer gate, and said “It’s up to you now…” and left her alone. The next morning I went up and she was laying in the barn, but jumped up and hobbled over to eat, so I named her Peg Leg. In about a week she delivered a nice big heifer calf, unassisted, with her cast on.We had to keep her away from the other cows obviously, so she was in a big lot with a shed and pipe fences that were about 2 feet off the ground. The calf, Penny, would nurse in the morning and then slip under the fence and run with the rest of the cows all day. Then she would come back in and nurse in the evening and spend the night in the barn with Peg Leg. In about 2 weeks, it was time to take Peg Leg back to the vet to see if the cast could come off, and I thought we should take baby Penny with us. We got there and let them out of the trailer into the vet barn, and the doc told one of the students to put that calf back in the trailer, I helped him walk the baby out there, just sort of leading/pulling her along when she noticed a pipe fence about 2 feet off the ground by the trailer and shot under it. Now we have a 2 week old baby calf loose on campus and lucky for us, the vet area was fenced off from the rest of the school on about 10 acres. The vet student started yelling “loose calf!” and people started running out of all the buildings, and they shut the main gate to the road. One guy came out of the horse part of the hospital and had a rope. Penny would run buy him going nine-0, and he would miss her every time. It seemed that everywhere she went she ran as fast as she could, like she really wanted to see everything while she was at school. By this time if you could imagine, we have a mob of about 25 students all running after this little black calf that seemed to outsmart them at every turn. Meanwhile, the vet, wise man Fil, and I stood in the parking lot and watched, laughing as every now and then a student would go down from exhaustion. They finally cornered her in the southwest corner, just about as far away from the trailer as you can get. They were able to contain her until they got a rolling calf cage to bring her back in, and we put her in the trailer. After all of that, the doc wanted to give Peg Leg (or Peggy as we were now calling her) 10 more days in the cast. He told me I could just take that off at home, no need to bring her back in. I still have Peggy in my herd, and she doesn’t even limp anymore so we don’t still call her Peg Leg. She just calved in with her 5th calf this week and is a very good mama. Oh, and if wise man comes around and she hears his voice, she still to this day gets a fire in her eye and comes to see if she can push him back in the truck. And of course, we had to keep Penny since she’s the only college educated cow we have… She brings up the herd’s IQ! As a side note, I tagged Penny’s 3rd calf as a new baby the other day and it shot across the pasture and ran almost a mile before it stopped and brushed up again. Like mother like son. I named him Bullet.

Penny and Bullet

Penny and Bullet

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Cowboy Logic

This little guy had a hard time coming into the world! His story is in the video below.

Baby Calf

Baby Calf

Enjoy the cowboy logic!

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Houdini the Cow?

A few years ago I sent my order buyer/father-in-law to the local sale to pick me up a nice cow calf pair. Later that day he showed up with a cow with a nice looking bull calf at her side. We stood at the side of the trailer admiring the purchase. The price was right; the cow and calf looked great; and though I don’t remember thinking this, surely we wondered why her previous owner had sold her.photo

 

Looks innocent enough, doesn’t she? We went ahead and unloaded her in the lot away from the herd for a few days to make sure she hadn’t picked up any sicknesses from the sale barn and also to be able to watch her closely and treat her if need be. Now the pen where we put her had a pipe fence about 5 feet tall. It was very secure for a cow, but a small calf could go under or through the pipes very easily. However, this is not a concern because the calves generally stay close to their mamas. The next day I went down to check on my new purchase and they were gone! I checked all the gates, and they were secure. There were no holes or bent places in the fence, but the pen was empty. I finally found them on the other side of the barn in a different pen and all I could figure is that she jumped out. So, I decided to name her Houdini. She stayed in that pen until it was time to turn her out with the herd, and everything was fine. When it comes time to wean a calf, we practice fencline weaning because it is much easier on the animals. This way, they don’t feel like they are separated. I noticed that each time I went down to feed, Houdini’s calf was very content. I would put the feed out for them and her calf would come up and eat quickly while some of the others would continue to stand by their mamas. One day I changed my schedule and went to feed at a different tim. As I approached the pasture, I noticed Houdini quickly making her way toward the fence from the calves’ side of the pen. I watched in amazement as she jumped and cleared the fence just like a deer back to her side of the fence. As I got closer to feed them, sure enough, her calf had milk all over its nose. Houdini had been jumping in and out every day between my feeding times to take care of her baby. Usually you cull a cow for bad behavior, and this would certainly qualify. The problem is she consistently produces calves that are in the top group of all our cattle. Number 1217 on the banner of this page is one of her calves, and my wife and kids think she is the best cow ever. So now we just have a mutual understanding that if she likes it there, she stays there, and so far she likes the pasture she is in.

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