When I talk about our couple of days working buffalo, I usually only mention that we were preg checking them. But it was really more than that. At the ranch they only work the buffalo once a year. Can you blame them? I mean really, who wants the stress and working buffalo more than that?
With the whole herd gathered, everything goes through the chute. We wean off all of the calves and sort the bulls from the heifers. That means that they each get a tail lift… In some ways it can be kinda tricky trying to sex them. So much hair… And as it got darker the differences sure became hard to spot! But there is an easy, unreliable way to ID gender- their horns. Interestingly enough, the horns on the bulls grow wider… Random, I know.
And then we obviously preg the cows, cull the opens. Its so interesting to see this herd and the range in ages and size. We have young calves to old cows that have been in the herd for years. But what they all have no matter what their age is, they are all so crazy. Over and over they would have a problem with the cows tipping over backwards. See, in their craziness, they try to jump out. And they could if it was just a cow ally (buts its not anymore). With the ally being tall enough and strong enough, they can’t jump over. But it doesn’t keep them from trying, over and over again. And eventually, their top heavy head gets the best of them and they just topple over backwards. It really is comical to see because its as if once they get up to the top, it all goes in slow motion while they try to NOT tip over. They fling their hooves and wiggle their head. But its inevitable… They tip over on their backs and CAN’T get up. “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…” (name that show?!).
Once they have tipped over the crew is gathered because it takes ALL of the men to get the upside down buffalo right side up. After this happening so many times, they have got their system down. They throw a rope around its head and pull, rolling it up. It seems simple, but buffalo are heavy. Super heavy! Seriously, it takes 9 guys to do this! And sometimes one has to get a little brave to jump down in the ally with the buffalo to get the rope on. Exciting right?
They did get to pull over a good handful of buffalo, but fortunately nothing really happened. Hardly anything to get your blood pumping. We had one little incident where a calf managed to back out of the chute, right by me. It was like preg checking cows all over again. But that meant I new just what to do- grab the baby and run! I had been recording numbers and standing right next to the chute when the little bugger psyched out the gate man and was able to back out. We danced around the table, trying to keep something between us and the calf and at the first chance we jumped up on the cat walk. The guys were prepared for something like this and pulled out some panels to herd the little buffalo back in. And it did just saunter in and we went back to work, shortly acting as if it had never happened.
Preg checking was, once again, exciting this year! Not enough to cause any really harm, but still enough to know your heart can be good and fast.