Thursday, October 13, 2011

We have cows!

As part of our dream of becoming self-sufficient, we need to run a few cattle on our smallholding. Not only do we want to grow our own beef, but we also need natural lawnmowers. Some parts of the property are rather wet (which is good as there will be a dry spell again at some point) and the grass gets very long very quickly. Mowing it is just not an option. Our neighbour Graham, is a stock agent and he guided us through the process of becoming cattle owners. First we had to get ear tags and a property code. When cattle are bought and sold, they are traceable through the property codes and ear tags. Sometimes the tags fall off from chewing the grass through a fence as it’s always greener on the other side. In this instance, you need to replace the tags. If you can catch the beast!
Last Friday was cattle sale day at the Colac cattle yard. However, before we left, we received a delivery of two new gates. We don’t have a front gate, and we have already had a herd of neighbouring cattle come into our garden for a visit. We are also going to put a gate between our property and our neighbour’s place. He has a cattle ramp and we will be able to move cattle from his ramp to our property (and vice versa) without the challenge of moving the stock via the road. So we bought a 14ft and a 16ft gate. Yes folks, gates are sold in feet. And another gem of knowledge is that they come in sizes from 3 feet to 18 feet. But even feet are cheaper than odd feet. Go figure.

The gates being delivered.
Arriving at the sale yard the first thing that greets you is the cacophony of mooing, THEN the smell hits you. The acrid smell of cow shit is so strong it makes your eyes water and burns the back of your throat. This must be addictive to some people or they must not notice it as they wander around sipping coffees and eating sausage rolls. I thought smell was a big part of taste. I guess the coffee was probably pretty bad to start with…. You need to wear closed shoes. That is a must.
Spot the girls... not too many here!
The next impression is that this is definitely a man’s world. There is underlying snobbery here. My hat is taller than yours. My hat is more used than yours. My RM boots are new. My workboots are well used. My belt buckle is bigger than yours. And my gut is bigger than everyones! And all the while cattle are being prodded to be made to turn around in their pens so that prospective buyers can view them from all angles, while the men are parade their “machoness” (is that a word?!) for one another.
These tough looking blokes are the auctioneeers. The third one from the left has a magnificent girth!

The auctioneering of the cattle is speedy. However, it took two hours for our first pick of cattle to come to the hammer. Graham did the bidding for us. Just a barely susceptible nod to the auctioneer is all it takes. But we missed out on our first choice. Our second option came up soon after that.

These are our girls. Waiting for our turn at bidding.
The challenge when buying cattle is that you have to buy them in lots. So if there are 10 in a pen, you buy all 10. We only wanted two cows with two calves, so our choice was limited by what was available in that configuration. Our second attempt at purchasing two pairs was successful. And just like that, we have become cattle owners. The fellow who we bought them from lives not too far away and knows Graham, and after a little favour calling, the previous owner kindly agreed to deliver them to us later that day at no charge.
Success. Graham passing Frans' owner ID up to the record keeper on the walkway above.
Even the girls are macho!

This is what we bought.

At around 7pm the cattle truck arrived. Above us a big black cloud was churning, thunder was booming and streaks of lightning were slicing through the early evening sky. This was not an ideal situation to offload nervous cattle in, run them around a fence along a road and try and manoeuvre them into a paddock. With the help of Graham’s son and grandson, between the five of us, we coaxed the cows and calves into their new pasture without any deviations. Job done. Two happy cows with two happy calves. And two very happy owners.
Running the cattle from the cattle ramp onto the road and around to our gate opening on the right.
So meet Agnes the Angus and Eileen. Sara and Stephen named them. The calves will not be named. They will eventually pay the rates when we sell one and the second one will feed us and our families. In approximately three months time, we will put a bull over the two cows so that we will have the next two calves in a year’s time.  

We have taken a step closer to our dream.

1 comment:

  1. love the comment... put a bull over the cows... hope he does something creative while he's passing over!!!