What the Cows Say

By Patty Wilber

The cows are out where the eastern plains of New Mexico flatten off the Manzano Mountains and stretch themselves into Texas.  It usually seems to be windy.  Makes me thankful I live in arms of the mountains.

The cows have 1200 grassy acres and a big water tank, but this is what they say:  “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”

Excuse me? It is practically the middle of December.  I don’t think there is any green grass left in the entire county.

“Well, WE  might find some,” they say, as they sashay through any barbed wire fencing that is not tight enough to twang when plucked.

I had no idea that cows were such wanderers. Fortunately, they are easily bribed with alfalfa hay.  After just a few days of the “honk and feed ’em” program, you can drive in, honk, and they hustle happily to the feeding spot, even from across the road!

Unfortunately, Bert (the bull) and some of the neighboring bulls, too, have a slightly different agenda:  “The heifers are always prettier on the other side of the fence.”  Like those cute ones down there by the Mormon church.  Bert’s last visit resulted in him taking a little unexpected trip with the Mormon Heifer’s dad, to a pen far, far away.

Ronnie says: “Once a bull starts a wandering, you might as well sell ‘im cuz he’s never gonna stay home”.

But Ol’ Otis says: “Pen ‘im up a while, then put ‘im back with the cows and ‘e might stay put.”

So, the wires are being tightened for the cows and Bert is at Tabooli’s house in Tabooli’s pen, and Tabooli is here.

Tabooli is four, and he is very good for a stallion, however, he likes to get in the middle of things and he is very vocal.  He talks to me in the morning for breakfast, he talks to the cows, he talks to himself, he talks to the girls; he even talks to the trailer! (Which does not talk back.)

I also have Buckshot, a three-year old colt.  He doesn’t strut, he doesn’t fight, and he rarely talks.  He just wants to get along.

Then there is Cometa. He is a gelding, but he is the Boss of the Universe.

The two girls, Penny and Risa, must be kept from the studs, and the show gelding just doesn’t need to get involved in “who likes who” with the other boys.

Penny and Risa have one  big pen, Show Boy has one…what to do with three bad boys and two pens?

Stallions must be kept by themselves, right? Nope.

In the wild, stallions run in herds, so like all horses, they do like company, and can get along with others.

In 2009 , I went to Nebraska to spend a week riding at the Jirkovski’s.  They had the best behaved stallions I have ever seen, and they typically turned them ALL out together at night, even the show stallions.

So, I called them before I started my little boy band experiment, and they said to just be careful that the stallions don’t pick on the gelding.  (They haven’t met Cometa).

I started with Tabooli and Cometa together because I was pretty sure Buckshot was going to go with the flow, and I didn’t want T. and Cometa messing with each other over the gate.

Tabooli arrived and Jim put him in the round pen. Cometa ran right over and they started sparring over the fence.  I didn’t like that.  Seemed like a panel might get damaged, so Jim let T. out.

They approached each other, nose to nose, necks arched, tails up, manes wild. They sniffed, squealed dual challenges, and rose up in the air, striking with their hooves!  Wild horse drama!

Funny thing is, they didn’t touch. It was ritualized fighting,  repeated a few times.  They never even got to the point of turning butt to butt and going for the kick boxing.

Buckshot, true to form, stayed well away from the fence line: Not Getting Involved.

Over the next few days, Cometa and T. periodically challenged each other (noisy boys!) but no one  got the upper hand or the shaft. They even ate together, sometimes.

At this point I decided to switch Cometa and Buckshot because Cometa has a super thrifty metabolism, so to keep him from becoming obese, he really has to have a limited diet.  Tabooli is young and studly, (at least until next week, when he will become a gelding…)  He needs more food.

So, I turned Buckshot out  and put Cometa in. Buckshot strolled over to Tabooli.  The two stallions gave each other a quick sniff and went to get a bite to eat. That’s all!  No posturing, no talking.  A big non-event!

The two stallions Buckshot (buckskin) and Tabooli (palomino). Ho hum.

Then Tabooli strutted to the gate to taunt Cometa, “The cows say the grass is greener on my side of the fence.”

Cometa whacked the gate. Boing!

I think I might load Cometa up and send him to a pen far, far away!

About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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2 Responses to What the Cows Say

  1. Elizabeth says:

    RancherFriend has had both a wandering bull (known as BadBull) and a wandering heifer (known as Madonna–as in the singer in her younger days.) BadBull broke fences and went to eat the neighbor’s sorghum and insert Beefmaster genes into a Black Angus herd. Not appreciated. BadBull broke a lot of fences, including expensive high-tensile wire, barb-wire, and (near the barn) heavy plank “bull-proof” fencing in the working pens. BadBull ended in the freezer, after a very uncooperative feud with the cattle trailer and defiance in the face of firearms.

    Madonna was simply a girl who wanted to have fun. Preferably somewhere else, with new friends. She didn’t break fences; she jumped them. For a cow, she was an amazing jumper, and if trainable and rideable, might have done well in jumping competitions. She even managed to tuck up her dangling bits so she never got a scratch. The other heifers clustered together and gossiped about her. She knew all the boys in the neighborhood (those bad boys down the hill and across a couple of roads were ever so much more interesting than the stolid replacement for BadBull back at the ranch.) We have no idea who got her pregnant, except it sure wasn’t a Beefmaster, but motherhood was not her forte…she was seen leaving her calf with the other mama cows and leaping the fence one too many times. At least she didn’t destroy the trailer when finally caught and shoved aboard, and as a young cow with calf at side in a good year, she actually brought in a bit of cash at auction. (No, the buyer was not warned about her tendency to head for the dance halls and saloons…and no, RancherFriend did not trust that her baby would be any less adventurous than she was.)

  2. BlogPatty says:

    Hi Elizabeth! I really enjoyed reading your story! This the first year I have spent much time with pastured cows, so it has been fun and interesting. Hope none of these girls ends up being another Madonna! And fortunately, Bert seems to be very mild mannered. BadBull sounded like a lot more of a handful!

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