A Man Named Truck

Truck has to be one of the nicest men who has ever worked on our farm. He has come every other Wednesday for years to manicure our cows’ hooves.

Does it look like this cow is enjoying her pedicure?

 

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Sorry, Bessie, it’s for your own good!

I’ve had a couple pedicures and felt much more relaxed than she seems to be, but then I wasn’t put in a contraption that tipped me on my side and held me immobile during the procedure. To keep them still and prevent injuries, cattle are run into an upright stanchion and then tipped so the procedure goes smoothly. Hooves are trimmed and buffed as a preventative measure that helps prevent sore feet and foot rot.

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We all love Truck, even if the cows aren’t so sure.

Also, since cows spend lots of time on concrete, they can develop a condition known as sled foot which is when the hoof continues to grow out making it hard for them to walk. While cattle are immobile, their ear tags are washed and they are checked for any other irregularities or possible health problems. Truck does approximately 25 head (or 100 hooves!) each week he’s here. Cattle are rotated on a continuous basis so that each one is checked regularly for problems.

Bounder

Erin and Bounder

My granddaughter Erin with Bounder the brave hunter.

Powderpuff, our spoiled pregnant cat that I told you about in my first book, had five babies a few years ago. When they were weaned I was told that I must find homes for her youngsters. Some people think farms are perfect places to drop off unwanted cats of all ages and we were overpopulated with felines, so the little kittens had to go. After having little success with a “Free Kittens” sign, one of dozens in the countryside each spring, I decided that I’d try reverse psychology. I put out a sign advertising “Kittens for Sale.” No one was fooled and I still had to give them away! There was one fuzzy little runt that nobody wanted so I talked Gerald into letting us keep him for a future mouser – Ha-ha – we already had dozens, but he’s pretty good about letting me have the things I really want badly so we now have one more cat. I guess he’s my cat because I’ve spent many hours doctoring him and am now in possession of a Tom cat that anyone would be proud to own. Since I paid the bills then, only our farm vet and I know how huge his vet bills were.

Last night my husband and all the men on the farm worked late so it was just me, Buck and the runt kitten I kept, now named Bounder. I sat outside on the porch steps and watched Buck as he waited patiently at the end of drive, just standing and watching for his master’s return, tail drooping and slowly wagging. He, finally, gave up and brought me his ball so we played fetch until my arm tired. (He, on the other hand, never tires!)

I was sitting on the step peacefully enveloped in the soft gray blanket of dusk when I saw Bounder rounding the corner of the house. He’s becoming a good hunter and a few days ago emptied a mouse nest, one little baby at a time. That poor mommy mouse must have been devastated! This evening as he proudly turned the corner he had something strange in his mouth. It looked like one of those coiled giant lollipops but all of a sudden it moved…and uncoiled! He had captured a snake and he was fascinated with his new catch. If you know cats, you know they don’t kill their prey outright but, instead, torture it with animalistic pleasure so long the poor animal just wishes it were dead. He’d throw the snake in the air and then when it coiled in on itself he would grab it and jump in the air as it stretched to it’s full length of eighteen inches. Kitty fun! Snake terror!

Bounder entertained me with his show for a long time as he jumped up as high as possible while trying to keep that whole snake off the ground. He would then throw it again and again. At times, he would leap a yard in the air after his catch. He was still throwing his terrorized snake in the air and jumping up on his hind legs with it in his paws when I decided to call it a night and go in the house.

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Bounder plays innocent, but we know better!

After I came in, I checked every fifteen minutes until bedtime and he was still torturing that poor reptile. When I told my husband the “snake” tale, I could tell he didn’t believe me. I swore it was true though and when he went out on the porch on his way to the barn this morning and found another bloody snake, he became a believer.

“The best way to get on with a cat is to treat it as an equal – or even better, as the superior it knows itself to be.” –Elizabeth Peters

Payton

PaytonSomeday when Jeff retires, the legacy of our farm will belong to Payton. What a bundle of energy he has been since he came out of the womb!  Of course, keeping up with his older cousins added to any incentive he had to excel, though he would have regardless.  He was a standout in high school and gave us one of the most exciting moments of our lives when he won first place in the state wrestling competition in the Schottenstein Center at OSU.

Payton has excelled in everything he has put his mind to and is now learning the ropes of our operation from the ground up.  Jeff is not playing favorites and has him in the milking parlor six days a week for many hours and is teaching him aspects of the record-keeping we do on cattle.  Payton has also spent many hours fence walking.  We Payton fishinghave well over ten miles of electric fence on our farms.  In summertime tall grass and weeds can short out fences and cattle learn quickly that they can escape.  Somebody has to walk those fences with a weed whip and cut down the offending grass and weeds.  Of course, it’s always a hot summer day when the job needs done, but when it is done we can keep our cattle captured in the paradise of luscious legumes where they live.