A Matter of Motivation
Our first calf was born the other day. I saw it from my fencing pickup and decided to tag it while I was there.
The cow stood over the newborn, gently protecting it.
But they were across the creek.
I was wearing my hiking boots and really did not want to get wet, but I could jump the creek.
The creek looked wider than I remembered.
Slowly, so not to disturb the cow, I ambled along the creek looking for a narrow spot. A few places looked possible, but I wondered if my legs still had the push I needed.
I used to jump this creek without thinking at all, but now I worried to myself, looked some more, and finally talked myself into attempting a jump.
I made it.
I tagged the calf and went back to fencing.
Fast-forward to a few days and a few tagged calves later.
Another cow laid peacefully with her calf near the creek.
This time I was riding a well-trained horse, checking all the cattle.
Slow makes it fast when tagging a calf.
I ground-tied Freckles about 20 feet from the calf, slipped down from the saddle and quietly walked toward the calf, first at a left angle, then a right.
The cow stood up, bowed her head and snorted. Angus cattle can look intimidating when they try.
I needed some protection.
I quietly turned around and walked back to Freckles. I’d just use him as my bodyguard. The cow wouldn’t try to take him on.
I led Freckles right up to the calf as the cow backed away.
I knelt down and tagged the calf.
The cow bluff charged and I jumped up and away.
Freckles stood there with his lead rope hanging to the ground, doing exactly as he was trained to do.
I had the calf tagged, but needed my horse back. The cow needed me to leave.
Freckles stood directly between me and the calf, with the cow nose to nose with Freckles on the other side of the calf.
I snuck up on the left.
The cow peered around Freckles and snorted at me.
I veered to the right.
The cow peered around the right and stepped one leg over her calf.
Freckles cocked one leg and looked as if he might fall asleep. I’ve always suspected he suffers from narcolepsy anyway.
The cow couldn’t see me if I walked directly behind my dozing horse. I wanted to walk up and lead him backward by his tail, but didn’t think I really should try that potential leg-breaker.
I thought of another strategy.
Freckles is well-trained to stay ground-tied, but he loves treats.
I had a treat in my pocket.
I stood about 20 feet away and held a treat out in my hand.
“Come here, Freckles. Want a treat?”
One eyelid raised slightly and he cocked his other leg. The cow snorted at me.
I tried peekaboo to the left again. The cow was tired of that game. She came at me this time.
I turned and ran, feeling her hooves pound the ground more than hearing them.
My darned cowboy boots slipped in the mud right about the time the cow hit the ice. Both of us skated for a moment. She looked like a reining horse doing a sliding stop. I didn’t bother to picture what I looked like. I stood up first and saw the creek ahead of me.
Not once did I hesitate, look for a narrow spot or worry about the strength in my legs.
I sailed over that bank and cleared the other side with about two feet to spare.
It’s all a matter of motivation.