Today we had a "round up." Calves were vaccinated and little boy calves were castrated (you can uncross your legs now, guys). Each calf had to be rounded up, processed, retagged with a "fly tag" (they have a red identification tag, and now an orange tag that will help keep flies at bay...I was excited because red and orange, among other saturated colors are so "in" this spring.).
This is not an easy job. This is definitely not a one-man job. This is a hard day of physically and mentally taxing work.
So, along with the vet and the vet tech, Joe enlisted the help of our landlord (a lifelong cattle man), my cousin, Anna, and my dad.
Yes, my dad.
The dad who didn't let us keep our kittens because they walked on the cars and made footprints.
Yes, the dad who tries really hard to like our dog.
Yes, the dad whose gene pool I share, as we are organized, meticulous, neat, and find animals to be difficult to enjoy, as they work against all of the aforementioned qualities (sorry animal lovers).
Anyway, I was down to just one kid, with the other two at Grandma's and Anna helping, so I spent my morning running up and down the stairs desperate to get the house in order before the girls came home. In my third trip up the stairs to put away the last few loads of laundry, I noticed the calves and their mamas headed down the pasture hill, in a neat order at a pretty quick pace. Not a stampede by any stretch of the imagination, but a good clip...in running terms, they were doing a tempo run.
Anyway, guiding the calves and mamas was Joe, waving his arms in a calm but forceful way, making the cattle call sounds that the animals know so well. They were calm. They knew where to go. They trusted Joe.
Bringing up the rear was my dad! I was so proud of him! He was waving his arms a bit, but mostly he was just walking alongside them. Now, Dad is not unfamiliar with animals. He grew up with a few "fat calves," as he calls them, and some pigs. The guy was an agriculture teacher for over 30 years, so he has some know-how on the animal science end of it all, but livestock farmers are not successful because they were necessarily A students in Animal Science 101. Rather, livestock farming and the mannerisms associated with it are innate.
The cattle trust Joe.
They recognize his voice, turning their heads even when his truck goes by.
My dad is a grain farmer. He is more comfortable walking fields, testing soils, watching the radar and utilizing GPS monitors for maximum crop production. This livestock business is a whole different breed (pardon the pun). The crossover of grain farmers helping livestock farmers is not something super common around us. Generally when Joe needs help, he enlists other cattle men and women around here, but today was different.
Today was fun to watch from my warm view at the top of my stairs.
Today was not only an inter-generational experience, but an experience where livestock and grain farmers crossed the great divide that separates them and worked together.