It's the week before the Brown County Free Fair, which means it's time to start getting heifers and cows trained to walk while wearing a halter.
Most 4-H students have figured out that having one week to train an animal really isn't enough. I would like to think most 4-H members that have worked all summer long getting their animals ready for the county fairs throughout Minnesota.
I am sure Russell's girlfriend Sabrina has been walking her big Brown Swiss cows every day since the beginning of time. Well, OK, maybe not since the beginning of time, but I do know she trains her cows way more than anybody I know.
Most of the 4-H livestock participants also know that taking the same animal from year to year makes for an easier summer trying to train an animal. Cows, once tamed, are very affectionate for the rest of their lives. That's why they become pets.
Russell figured this one out a long time ago. This year he is taking his beloved Silky-again. If you would have been here, you would see just how difficult it is to train a cow. Russell was training her while he was lying on the ground. (I uploaded a video to my facebook and it was one of my most popular posts.)
She really is a great cow, she may win the pageant, but she is the sweetest cow on the farm at this moment. It's all about what's on the inside that counts.
So, Tuesday afternoon was the day to start refreshing Silky on her show ring manners. It's not all that hard.
All a person has to do is walk up to Silky, put a halter on her head and walk around. Usually we bring the cows over near the REA light pole in our yard and tie them to a metal post. We don't tie Silky to the post, but we leave the leash on her. When she starts to wander, she often steps on the leash, which makes her think she is tied.
I was out sitting on the retaining wall, watching and talking to Silky, when I decided to go get a brush to groom her a bit. Cows love to be brushed.
Silky followed me over, and into, the garage. Then she followed my back to the light pole. All I had to do was talk to her. I did give her one quick swipe with the brush to bribe her back to the grassy area.
The reason I was supervising Silky was because Russell was retrieving Si, Silky's daughter. He was going think of taking her to the fair and that means we had to start training.
Yep, no big rush on time there!
Si is a rebel; she has never been on a leash. We trapped Si between two gates and managed to put a halter on that small head.
The minute we open the gates, Si started trying to pull Russell around the open-front, dry-cow barn.
It takes a lot to pull Russell around a barn.
Russell and I managed to get Si out of the barn. He was pulling from the front and I was pushing from the back.
How is it that I ended up with the back end? The back end of a cow is dangerous in so many ways.
We managed to push and pull Si near the four-wheeler and tied her lead to the rack.
That's when the fun begins.
We very slowly started moving forward; Si puts on her super-sturdy, heavy gripper brakes and locks them, and the tug-of-war begins.
I just pray she stays on her feet. My cow Pogo, may she rest in peace, would be playing the wet-noodle trick at this point and throw herself on the ground.
Any normal animal is going to figure it out that if she just walks along with us, it will be a much nicer walk. I will admit, Jerseys don't always act normal.
Si continued to apply the brakes the entire way over to the REA pole by the house. And she continued to keep the rope pulled tight after we stopped. Doh.
After a half hour, we pulled Si over to the calving barn and put her in her specially-created pen. This time, when we were physically pulling and pushing, I had the front end and Russell had the back end, which was good, because Si let him have it. And I don't mean she kicked him.
Russell wasn't pleased. I silently laughed.
We will continue to work with Si every day. If her attitude doesn't adjust she won't be going to the fair.
For questions, or comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.