Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Last Roundup

It takes a village.....

Rounding up a herd for transport is a long process and its the small details that are so important.

In order to round up the herd I needed a corral large enough to put them all in, so portable panels were brought by local farmers 2 days before the big event.

These farmers were kind enough to pull the panels out of their own barnyard and load them on a big truck and drive them to the farm.  On a sunny Sunday, when the weather was perfect for haying at their place, they brought panels to me.         Such kindness.

The panels were set up in an easy configuration to be able to hold the herd and create an alleyway to walk them up to the trailers to be loaded.  Once the transported panels were added to the panels that were rescued from our barn fire, we had plenty to make a big area for the herd at the end of one of their grazing fields.

Two days later, at 4:30 pm, the cows and their calves walked easily into the corral. 
They thought they were going to a new field so it was a simple process.
The weather was cooler (70's)  than it had been in weeks and there was a slight breeze.

I was thankful.

The roundup had been postponed twice before (by me) because the temps had been over 90 degrees.
There was no way I was going to ship my cows in high temps in a metal cattle trailer. The chances of overheating are high and I refused to risk my herd to those dangers, so I waited.  And waited...until the high heat broke for 24 hours and then we started again.

It was the perfect afternoon for the cows.

They were calm and relaxed, eating the grass in the corral and giving baths to their calves.

Glennie followed me around the corral and was looking for her treats.
I will really miss her mischievous behavior and comical personality.

Wanda was also giving me the "eye"-- waiting for her favorite crackers.
As you all know, Wanda has always been my favorite.

Gwen wants to go to the next field and waits for me to open the gate.
She is a no nonsense kind of cow.

Google started to trumpet her requests to move to the next field.

The herd corralled.

Red Sox Faith and her calf, wondering when the gate will open and they can go to the next field, as they usually do.

These cows are creatures of habit and know the routine better than I do.

As we waited for the trailers to arrive, the calves fortified themselves with fresh milk.

Glennie bellied up to the water tub for some cold spring water.

Each family of cows stood together.

I brought out the herds favorite snack and rewarded each one of them for their years of partnership and service.  It would be my last good bye.

As the clouds rolled by, friends arrived to help load the herd and for moral support.

No matter what....someone always gets pooped on.

And then the trailers arrived and the cows took notice.

I did too.

I think my heart skipped a few beats.

The largest trailer would hold the adult cows and the yearlings.

This smaller trailer was for just the calves and perhaps a yearling to be a babysitter for the younger ones.

I did not want the calves on the same trailer as the cows.
I feared they would be crushed, trampled or injured as the cows swayed and moved as the trailer drove the 70 miles to their new farm.

I handed the new herd owners my entire herd book complete with registrations, photos and the herd's Animal Welfare Approved certifications.
The livestock hauler was very impressed with the herd. He noticed right off that he could approach the girls and they just stood there, they did not run out of his way. He liked the condition of them and their muscular calves. He wondered if I had any more that were available and then tried to get a few from the new owner. (not a chance)
I believe these are the last herd of traditional Simmental genetics in New England, if not on the entire East Coast.

Then we started loading them on the trailer.

I stood in the middle and kept the yearlings and calves away from the loading chute.

The cows have trailer experience and they hopped right on.

They were loaded in 60 seconds.

One of the yearlings, Gouda, remained with the calves in the corral while the big trailer was moved out and the smaller trailer was backed in.

Gouda was not happy being with her younger siblings and was very vocal about it.

The calves loaded very easily, which I was surprised about since they had never seen a trailer before.  Gouda jumped right on the trailer and the calves followed her.   A great system.

After they loaded, the cattle men gathered to chat.
They agreed that this was one of the easiest load outs they had done in years.

There is something to be said for calm, gentle cattle..and a great team of caring friends to help.

The trailers headed down the road hoping to get to their new farm before dark.

I watched them go down the driveway and I have to admit that I had a sinking feeling in my entire body. Hard to explain.     
I still have it when I think of them.

While I watched my herd go down the road, my friends immediately started taking down the fencing panels and carrying them towards the truck.

Then the panels were carefully loaded and tied down for the trip back to their own farm.

When the field was cleared of fencing and empty boxes of graham crackers, my friends took me out for an ice cream cone.  We sat and talked.  They wanted to be sure I was OK.

In a sense I was a bit relieved.
The 3 weeks leading up to this day had been full of anxiety and worry.  The heat index was so high, and everyone's schedule was difficult to synchronize for a round up and transport. (3 times)
My printer died in the middle of printing documents and photos and I had to find somewhere else to get it done.  I couldn't sleep either.     My guts were in constant turmoil.

Now that the herd was finally, safely, on their way to their new lives, I knew that it would all hit me later. The corralling, loading and transport went much much quicker than I had anticipated.
It all happened so fast.
Right at that moment, with the ice cream cone in my hand, I was a bit numb.

When I drove up the hill to go home I closed my eyes as I drove by their field. 
I would have to think of a way to avoid looking at their fields for awhile.
It just hurts too much.


  1. Wow, reading that i could feel your sadness deep in my soul. Im sure you picked just the right people to take over your beloved herd.

  2. oh my...this is the saddest post ever! i am so sorry you had to let them go. i am glad everything went smoothly and that they have a nice new home.

  3. I'm trying to imagine how it must feel to say good bye to your herd. I'm sure it's hard...but I"m so happy for you (and your cows) that they are going to what sounds like a wonderful home! I'm sure when you go to visit, they will stop grazing, lift up their heads and their ears will turn towards you in that all familiar way! I hope this change will bring some relief to the struggles you've been having.

  4. i'm so sorry they moved on.. but i'm glad they found a wonderful home. *hugs*

  5. I know you will be off to visit them on occasion. You will miss them. What a difficult decision to make.

  6. I'm glad the move went so well. It's nice when it's all calm and easy. I'm sure DH can relate to your sense of loss, as he was a lost soul when ours left.

    Having a herd here from April to grass out has helped some, but it's not the same as your own cows.

    Hugs for Janis.

  7. As I read your post, the song "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong popped into my head -- "I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do... they're really saying I love you..." How wonderful to have such willing helpers. I know the day was a bittersweet one for you.

  8. so kind of local farmers and friends to help. The new owners look thrilled. I know this was a sad day for you.
    Your photos are lovely.

  9. I have fallen behind , that was a lovely herd of cows you sent out, I have ot go back further now and see what has been going on

  10. It melts my heart hearing how the local farmers helped so willingly...

    I'm sure this move was rather difficult for you and it must be making things a lot more quiet around your house...

    Hang in there! At least they aren't too far up the road so you can go visit the mischievous herd from time to time...

    Marvelous post for the letter "M"!

    Thanks for linking.