Friday, April 5, 2013

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

We arrived home early evening after catching up with friends, to find that all was not well in our little patch of heaven. Something was wrong and it took us a while to work out exactly what was going on. What gave away that all was not right you ask? It was the angst ridden bellowing coming from one of the cows....high on the hill the sound was heart rending as it rolled down the hill and into my ears. With five babies safely delivered, but two cows still due to deliver my initial thought was a cow in labour. Imagine the images running through my head as I tried to second guess what might be needed to rectify that situation. Luckily for us it wasn't nearly that drastic, but things still needed addressing. So as dusk fell we headed off in the vehicle to find which cow was in trouble and why. I didn't realise this until seeing them do it earlier in the week, but just like some wild animals, like meerkats, deer etc, cows often leave all of the calves in the care of one cow and wander off to feed for the day. The nursery are safe in the care of their nanny and the cows are free to forage as far afield as they like knowing their babies are safe. I have observed this behaviour all week, with the newest mother relegated to nanny duties each day. This evening however the cows hit a snag. By taking a short cut up the hill to the high paddock, where they tend to gather for the night as the weather gets cooler, the cows came up to where the calves were. Only to find that a long stretch of fence separated them. So, imagine if you will, hungry calves, fractious cows, a steep hill and a fence. Not a good scenario. By the time we arrived on the scene, not one, but two of the cows were showing signs of major distress. Translate this as major mooing (angst ridden to the max), the cow version of hyperventilating, and due to the steep terrain the risk of falling off the rocky ledge which was what was stopping the cows walking along the fence line to meet up with calves further along the ridge. With everyone so upset, calves agitated, cows trying to push through the fence as they tried to get their footing on a rocky outcrop we needed to come up with a solution, so on to Plan B. Back we went to the farm house, got the keys to the shed, grabbed another nifty farm gadget (there are so many tools and gadgets designed for specific jobs on the farm I am continually amazed) and headed back to the top of the hill. By this time it was dark, so by torchlight we cut the wires on the fence and I watched in amazement as the whole panel of fence folded back and collapsed on itself. Apparently it is designed to do this. The reality though is that it opened up an access point in the fence about 20 metres long. Well beyond what was required. Never mind. Interesting thing about cow mentality - seems that rather than the cows taking a step up and joining the calves in the top paddock which is where they have been overnighting all week, the cows waited for the calves to slide down to them before hurrying them down to the bottom paddock. Seems they couldn't get away from that evil hill quick enough. As for the nursery nanny. She took her calf off to safety as soon as we arrived on the scene! Our task for the morning before flying back to Brisbane? Fence repairs! 5.4.2013

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