A Tale of Two Steers
Updated: Nov 1
OK, I'll be mentioning a total of 4 steers, but really focusing on the two I just took to market, Tweedle Dum and Big Red.
So let me back up a bit. A while back, I purchased Freddy from a friend. Freddy was a steer that was partially bottle raised, as his mama tragically died when he was a bit too young to be weaned. So he had a cautiousness around humans, but was not overly friendly or overly scared. In the end, he did end up putting his horns in places they didn't belong, sometimes to the surprise of the people who were attacked by said horns.
We have learned over the years that our sheep do not appreciate cattle. But cattle really like to have friends.
So when we bought Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum from just down the road - Freddy was happy to see them. These little boogers were adorable as all get out. But we had taken them away from their mamas, and they were not accustomed to open pasture. When they arrived, they immediately cornered themselves in the corral by the barn - near familiar looking green panels that reminded them of home. Freddy immediately came over to say hi. He adopted them as his little friends, and they looked to him to show him around the farm and big their big brother. Even the Beast was with them for a little while, but I think Freddy liked them best.
We had lots of fun with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum - thinking they would be hard to handle. Indeed, they wanted nothing to do with humans, but wanted to be wherever Freddy was. We were able, by hand, to hold them up against a wall in the barn to give them their vaccines, and castrate them (No BULLS ALLOWED). Things seemed to be going well.
Freddy had his time to go, and off he went. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum were able to manage. They had each other, and now understood the lay of the land. However, Tweedle Dee got really sick. And even with me administering appropriate treatments - I won't go into the background, but he ended up with a weakened immune system, which allows MCF to take hold. We lost him, leaving Tweedle Dum all alone.
Well, not alone, but living with sheep that didn't want to be his friend. He never got over his apprehension of people, so I couldn't even give him ear scritches to help him understand that we were also sad about Tweedle Dee being gone.
In the meantime, my dog Seamus, seems to think that the cows are all just giant dogs there to play with him. He would bring Tweedle Dum his favorite dog toys to see if he would play. He would play bow, and try to get Tweedle Dum to chase him. But alas, steers don't want to play with puppers.
To alleviate his loneliness, and because we wanted beef in our freezer too, we brought home Big Red. Aside from him breaking our trailer and taking Larry for a ride on his huge horns (remember, Kristin, why we buy polled steers?) and even the incident with the fence and the me landing on my face, Tweedle Dum was super cautious of people. Never mean, but definitely kept his distance. But when Big Red came home, it was like a steamy romance novel. He glued himself to Red's side. They were inseparable. I'm not sure Red felt the same, but those two got into some trouble together. Hopping over electric fencing to get to sections of the pasture that were cordoned off (for reasons!), taking up barn stalls when they felt like it, and generally being giant goofs.
Red, however, was a former roping steer. This guy was feisty and obnoxious. He was hard to load when we bought him, broke our trailer and took Larry for a ride when we unloaded him at home.
When he flipped me on my arse (really, he didn't attach me, it was a perfect storm of his horns getting tangled in electric fencing and me trying to free him) Larry was just done. Wanted to shoot him and butcher him ON THE SPOT. But I already had a butcher date, and told Larry to chill.
And that date was today. Larry didn't think we'd load him. Thanks to our friend, Isaiah, we got the trailer fixed. We took them off pasture and put them on hay, to give the pasture a break for a bit. That allowed us to let them get just a bit hungry. Rainy weather encouraged them to sleep in the barn the night before.
We set up our gates so their only option was to head to the trailer. The cool thing about loading cattle is they are too big to go under! Which the pigs can do. And sometimes the lambs try to. Larry is all ramped up. He doesn't think we'll get this guy in the trailer. And all the while, Tweedle Dum is just loving hanging out with his bestest buddy.
I put a bale of hay into the trailer. I opened the barn. And Tweedle Dum walked right into the trailer like nothing. He didn't complain. He was a little sad when we closed him in. While Red stood in the barn - with me between him and the trailer, he wasn't leaving the barn. So I slowly walked past him, into the barn. Knowing if he got feisty, I had no way out. But just slowly walked past him, until I was behind him and the trailer. With his friend in there munching hay, he stepped right in.
I swear, the times we think loading is going to be the hardest, is when it ends up being the easiest.
But unloading still had me worried. It shouldn't have. But I felt the trailer lurching the entire time I drove it down. He was in the back and I knew he was bucking the whole time. He does not like being confined.
So I backed up the trailer, we closed the side gates, I waited for the Arapahoe Team to be ready, and I opened the trailer. Can I tell you what a great joy it is that my new trailer - you can open the back gate from the side, and you can open the middle partition, also from the side. From the OUTSIDE side? I don't have to be anywhere near these guys.
Big Red came barreling out, so fast he didn't realize he had no place to go but a pen. I was just happy to have him safely out and not having hurt anyone in the process. Tweedle Dum, finding himself alone again, just wanted to be with Red, and easily unloaded and walked up the ramp.
And that was it. The story of a gentle, but people-averse little steer and his feisty, ornery, long horned friend.