They're a clever bunch...
The newest group of cows came home about three weeks ago. We kept them separate from the main herd because we needed to bring them in to process them. They needed our "stamp of approval," vaccines and wormer. We wanted them to settle a little after their 10 hour trip to the Basin so we left them for a week before we thought about getting them in.
The weather took a turn on us and thawed just enough to make some puddles but then froze up solid again and made things pretty treacherous around the yard. We had trouble walking anywhere so the thought of trying to work cows quietly without one slipping and getting hipped was out of the question. So they sat a while longer.
We kept hoping the weather would break and thaw at least enough to make some slush but it snowed on top of the ice instead. And then it snowed some more. So there they stayed.
One morning, Husbeast looked out the window and said "The cows are gone..." He bundled up and went out to investigate. I looked out the window (nice effort, Rube) and noticed only a handful of cows where a pile had been. What Husbeast discovered was a beaver dam near the fence that had frozen over and snow that had drifted up to it making a lovely bench that left only the top two wires of the fence showing. There is a clump of willows on the other side of that fence and the remainder of the herd that we wanted these cows to stay separate from until they were properly marked.
We had resigned ourselves to the fact that they were mixed and we would have to sort them out and get them done some other time. We went back to our coffee and waited for the day to warm up enough to get chores done. By the time the feed truck fired up I noticed more cows back in the small pen. They were coming back from the big herd of cows to their original feed line! Every single one of them would eat there and then march down to the creek to get a drink and straight back over the fence into the willows!
We watched this for a few days and noticed that fewer would come back to their home base for food. Husbeast started getting anxious and decided that if they all came back in he was going to get them in and get them done. Clearly they wanted to be in the willows but they were too honest to stay there.
Weebeast and I were finishing up school today when Husbeast walked in and said that there were only two of the new cows out with the main bunch and if he could get them in, we would get cows done. I watched to see how the progress went and headed out for syringes and tags when I saw them bringing cows to the corrals. It was go time.
These girls were still a little hot and a couple of them tried to jump out of the lead up, while one tried to jump over a gate twice and a third popped the head catch open and made her escape. We were about halfway through when Husbeast had the next cow in the chute and said, "s**t. This is our cow...." He discovered that they brought one of the wrong cows across. She got a free ride and on we went. A few minutes later, from the main bunch I heard "Moooooooooeeewwww" (translation: hey! Why are you all in there without me?) I turned and caught a glimpse of a red tag...telltale sign of one of the newbies. We finished up those we had(I had a staring contest with the devil cow who tried to jump the fence. She bobbed her head once and I nearly had an accident. I left, she won) and Husbeast and Ben headed out to find the renegade.
Once we had them all done we opened the gate so they could head to the main bunch of cows. Husbeast and Ben took off to get hay and I watched the new cows mingle for a minute then beeline for the path they had become so familiar with. They headed down there two by two and walked single file back over the fence to hit the old feed line where remnants of their hay pile were. The main bunch followed them as far as the fence line then made a hard right and walked back up along the fence, mooing at the new cows and watching them eat.
I giggled as I watched them follow through with their routine. It's going to take a couple days for these girls to develop the new routine. It will be pretty amusing to watch the light bulb illuminate when they do!