Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Take Your Daughter (in-law) to Work Day...

When I first started blogging, I read lots of mom/family blogs and enjoyed getting to know them and have loved forming friendships with girls from so many different places. I also read a couple of the "big blogs"--- The Pioneer Woman is one of my faves. She does it all. She's got the whole cooking section and photography section and she's just plain hilarious. One of the things I've loved about her site is getting to see photos of their ranch. Country life is nothing new to me....my Grandfather was a farmer and I have several uncles who farm, too. I grew up in 4-H & FFA and showed steers in the county livestock fair and spent lots of spring days setting out watermelon and tobacco plants, and in the summer,way too many days to count in the garden picking peas, tomatoes, okra, squash and everything else! But, I don't have much experience with seeing how you "work cows."

DW's agricultural roots also include some farming, but the heart of the ranch he grew up on is cattle. His Daddy runs the cattle company and I wanted to see what this "working cows" business was all about. This interest REALLY set in after seeing Pioneer Woman's blogs about their ranch. I had my PW knowledge to go off of, and I was really curious to see if we do things out here like they do in Oklahoma. I also wanted to tag along one day to just take pictures of the guys working. I feel like so much of our lives are spent at our jobs, and I want to see the people I love doing theirs and so of course, I want a picture to remember it! One of my favorite pictures of my own Daddy is one that was taken when he was working on a drill rig in a mine in Australia. You can only see his silhouette and I love it. Another favorite "working picture" is of my Papa standing with one of my cousins in his tobacco patch.

Anyway, (whew this story is getting long...) it was two weeks ago and Spring Break. One of my brother-in-laws was on a cruise and my mother-in-law (who also helps when they work cows) was at the beach for Spring Break with my little SIL. So they were short-handed on the farm. They only had a very small herd of cows to work, so I don't think they were THAT concerned about being short-handed, but as soon as I heard they were, I talked to Lauren about going, and got on the phone and volunteered us to "help!" My father-in-law laughed, but agreed that we could come. I am sure he was shaking his head on the other end of the phone line. Ha...

That night I was so excited that I could hardly sleep and the next morning came EARLY. We were suppose to meet up at the horse-lot at 6:45. The men had already been there and had the horses saddled and loaded on the trailers... AB & I jumped in the truck with Pappy and we headed to the pasture where the herd was that we were working...

I figured I would at least be "gate-opener", but riding with my FIL is like riding with DW... He got the gates.

When we got up to the cow pens, I didn't know what to expect....everyone else was there and the horses were unloaded and tied up on the fence.


It was early and the sun had barely come up, and the ground was covered with fog.





The guys got on their horses and rode off to gather the cows and drive them into the cow pens.



Once they're in the cow pens,
it was time to "sort" them. Someone sits on top of the pen and works the gate. On this day, it was my BIL, Adam's job.
When a momma cow would come through, he'd let her out, but when it was a calf, he'd swing the gate shut, forcing the calf to go in the pen. So you see, for a little while, the babies were separated from their mommas. Some of the mommas took this pretty well. Some on the other hand, were pretty ticked off. Just ask this one....


Or this one, who came up under the barn where AB and I were watching! This Momma here jumped right on the fence when she came our way! Ha...




After the cows were sorted, all we were left with were the babies. (There were about 60 babies in the first group and a little more than that in the second group.) Since they're new babies, they have to be tagged with an ear tag and a tracking-like device, plus they have to be vaccinated.




The calves are sent through the squeeze chute and the person pushing them through the lane looks to see if they are a "bull" or "girl"--- When he'd yell "bull", Lauren and I would cringe, because this meant, too, that he had to be "cut" (castrated). Eeek.... Nope, that certainly wasn't our job! Ha... Lauren's job was to work the computer. She would enter in the tag numbers on each of the calves and run the scanner wand thing over the tracking device. That's some good explaining, huh? Ha! I should point out here, that AB was asleep strapped in her car seat in the truck, parked right by the fence, with the windows rolled down, before I say that I had a job!


Anyway, my job was to vaccinate.

Yes!, they let me give the cows shots. I'm like a "cow-nurse" and I never even had training! Unless you count the first 3 times when I did it wrong, and Mr. Lint (one of the men that work on the farm) had to keep telling me to "leave it squeezed until I get it all the way out"--- Finally after about the first 3, I had it. I was a pro. I was pretty nervous though, especially when they said to be careful not to stick myself or anyone else (which implied that it had happened before...and hello, if it had happened before and was going to EVER happen again, ya'll know it would be with ME!) Thankfully, no one except those who needed it were poked that day. (Even if I did threaten my BIL, Adam a couple times!). I'm sure I was "slow as Christmas", but nobody got stuck that wasn't suppose to!
Don't worry, ya'll, the calves didn't even flinch when I stuck them. They weren't like our babies when they get shots at all. (THANKFULLY, because anyone who knows me knows after the first one cried, I would be DONE). Now, that castrating part? I can't say the same for that....it wasn't too terrible, though.
After we'd gotten all of those calves tagged and vaccinated, it was time to gather up the others.


Annabelle had woken up by this point and she was interested in seeing about the horses who were tied up. Want to know how to get a bunch of busy men to take a 5-minute break? Just be 16 months old and flash them a smile and point to their horses.....

Pappy leading Annabelle

Uncle Adam & AB (he told her she might not be dressed like a cowgirl, but that she did know how to ride!) :)





Back to work! The other cows in this herd were on the opposite side of the field, and everyone got on their horses. One person has to drive the truck and be the "gate-getter," though, so that was us girls. I'm glad, because, well, I'm terrified of a horse. I so wish I wasn't and I really do want to try to ride and not be scared... maybe that will be a goal.... for now, I'm happy with "truck-driver."



AB sitting in back, watching....





My FIL said we could ride to the middle of the field, so we could see, and that we wouldn't be in the way. I was a nervous wreck driving through the field.... I just knew I was going to do something and scare the cows and make them break and run or something.... everything turned out fine, though....
These guys headed over to push part of the group




and these guys went and pushed the other part.




They had to stay close to the cows to make sure they made it through the gate and we had to be right behind them to shut it once they all got through it.




After that, since AB was up, we stayed long enough to get our picture taken at our "job posts" because we wanted proof that we'd worked cows and then we headed home!



On the way out, look who got the gate?!?!?


Nope, things didn't turn out like I'd planned in my mind! I assumed I'd be the "gate-getter" and didn't get to open the first one! But I did get to be the "cow-nurse" and that was way funner anyway!


When we got back to the office where our car was parked, we had to run in to see DW....




and we had him take a group-shot of the cowgirls-for-the-day! We were real glad that none of the cows we "worked" that day had horns like this guy! Ha....

I think the morning was a success and I hope we were actually a little bit helpful and not just in the way. I loved getting to see all of it first hand!
I'd also like to report that in the end, I had cow poop on my shirt. Everyone was proud.

~annie~

15 comments:

Charon Benton said...

I am SOOOOOOOO Proud of you for working those cows!!!!!!! Looks like y'all had a good time too!!! Go GIRL!!!!!
p.s. I have that same blue shirt you have on (minus the cow poop).
It's hard being a farmer, huh? I will admit that I'm always the one in the truck taking pictures rather than working "them" cows!! LOL

Mallory said...

Thank you so much for sharing this post and your pictures! Looks like a great day, proud of you for getting right in the middle of it! AB looked too cute on the horse, too!

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

ab looks so presh on that horse!!! what a busy day in the life on a farm! gorgeous pictures!

Janie said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the pics...you took some really good ones lady!!! You go girl for getting right up in there! This all brought back sooo many memories of me working the cows with my Daddy! And I can't believe that Mr. Lint is still working for ya'll! I used to date his nephew...small world! So glad you and AB had a good time! Thanks also for sharing that some people take care of their livestock as opposed to what animal activists may think! You go Ag-Girl!

Tania said...

Looks like fun. I felt like I was right there with you. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

I am completely fascinated by this. So cool. I love all that land, beautiful. I bet AB had a great time on that horse, seriously, so very cool!

Arielle said...

hahahahahaha this is my favorite post ever :)And why I love y'all! :)

marianne said...

Annie,

I LOVE the pictures from this post, one in particular is the silhouette of the oaks in the first picture! LOVE IT!

Carrie said...

Great post, Annie! Pioneer Woman who?! Your pictures are beautiful. I love that y'all got up and greeted the sun to work cows with the boys. Looks like a good time. I love that Annabelle likes riding horses. She needs one! Surely, Pappy recognizes this and she will get one for Christmas!

Stephanie Heintz said...

I've been waiting for this post!! I wish I could have been down there to work the cows with you guys! Way cool!

Katie said...

Oh my goodness! AWESOME POST!!! So fun! I have to admit, I'm a little jealous. I am CERTAIN that is hard work. I would love to try it for a day, though. :o) Your pictures are absolutely beautiful. And would you call me odd if I wanted to snuggle up with one of those baby cows? They are adorable. Great, great post! :o)

Lyndsay said...

Too funny Annie! It has been a while since I have worked cows myself. I was also the shot-giver back in the day. I love AB on that horse, she really needs one of her own!!

Q, La, and Gooner said...

Wow, you gave cows shots. That is awesome. I don't know if I could watch castration...eeep. Life on a farm is totally different than city life. When I moved from the city to the country, one of my friends asked me what I did all day. Did I just sit around and read the Bible??? Great pics!

Sarah said...

Way to go Annie!! I actually got demoted from "cow nurse" the first time I worked cows with William's family when I was still in college. I was too slow (trying to only stick the cows). SO I got stuck pouring the dewormer on their back. I have finally worked my way up to record keeper - or either after 10 years they were ready to get me out of the way!?! LOL!

Jenn said...

Incredible!! What an amazing experience! =) You GO Girl!! I am so jealous! incredible pictures too! Can't say I wouldn't have passed out doing the shots ... or even just witnessing the uh...um... ya know!
FUN fun post! I so badly want to be a cowgirl for a week...and live by the beach for the rest of my life!! ha ha!

Thank you for the post card offer!!

I think I can email you directly from your comment... I will go give it a try! yay!!