Did you think I dropped off the planet? Well, I didn't. Just real busy and no time to chat but I'll try to catch you up on a few of the things I've been doing. Today was a bit exciting. Some of you will remember that we always process our own beef, hogs, and chickens. Not this year, we just couldn't see our way to handling knives, a big electric meat saw, and a large powerful meat grinder with a curious six year old, a four year old who must touch everything, and a two year old who's in to everything and pleased as punch with every mess she makes. Yup, as much as we prefer doing our own, it wasn't going to happen this year so, regretfully we made an appointment with the meat processing plant to do our steer for us. That's when trying to simplify things became complicated.
All our beef before this time, except our halter broke FFA steers, have left their pen strung up dangling off the end of a tractor's bucket. In order to have someone else process it, we had to transport our steer 40 miles to my fathers where the gentlemen would come and begin the processing. The part we do behind a tall privacy fence so squeamish people who might be passing by won't complain because they saw a scene from real life.
But first we had to get the steer into the trailer. We soon learned where a thirteen hundred pound steer can go, anywhere he pleases if he's fenced in with cow panels. Though we pretty well had that figured out before we tried to load him as he's been busting down panels on a regular basis as he leaves his pen to visit our goats or heads over to have a chat with my mare. Only on rare occasion has he actually gone outside our pens and then he comes running when called, returning through the just opened gate. Yup, he's very tame having been bottle fed as a calf and has gone through manners training 101. You know, don't butt, don't shove me around, don't eat out of a bucket when it's in my hands, and move over when told. But, loading into a trailer was never covered since that's taught in class 102.
We might have tricked him in to teaching himself had we been able to leave the trailer hooked up to the pickup and put his feed in it each day. The trailer and pickup would have blocked traffic and we need it for transportation. No, we couldn't leave just the trailer as the pickup is needed to stabilize the trailer from the thirteen hundred pound steers movements.
In an attempt to do the same thing I tried tempting him with a bucket of grain as I walked backwards. He followed to the edge of the trailer and refused to go any further. I was almost glad. Where was I to go if he became frisky in the trailer. I know the danger of being in such confined quarters with such a big steer. Our middle daughter had four surgeries in thirteen months when her FFA steer pinned her in the corner and beat the tar out of her. She had just clipped him in preparation for a show and had led him in with a halter. I wasn't anxious to put myself in the same possible situation.
When the coaxing our beef failed, we resorted to herding him. He wouldn't herd. Oh we chased him this way and that and even resorted to a few whacks on his nose trying to convince him but he still wasn't convinced to go into the trailer. And after he'd shoved his way through the fence and took off with his tail in the air THREE different times. We decided that a fourth time he may head for the hills and we may not be able to get him back since we were on foot.
By this time, I was hopping mad. I ordered Kirk to go get his gun. I didn't care that I had a funeral I needed to be at that afternoon. I was too busy planning one that morning. Kirk stalled, letting me fume for a while, eventually he convinced me I needed to attend only one funeral that day and that we should reschedule for the next weekend, giving us time to call in recruits to help us load the steer.
When this week the steer tore up some more fencing, I didn't care that the temperature was hovering at 0 F with the wind biting making us miserable, the steer was going bye bye no matter what it took. But before I called in a small army, I asked the help of ONE of our friends who is also very skilled with horses. Little did I know how ignorant he'd make Kirk and I look. He simply whispered sweet nothing in that steer's ear and he trotted right in the trailer. Well, actually he just used a little body language and I assisted by doing what I was told. Oh we moved that steer around a bit but not more than a couple minutes and he was facing the trailer just staring at it. I thought for sure Tim would tell me to crowd him a little after he'd had a look see, but no... He said, watch, he'll walk right in. Danged if he didn't walk forward and right in all the way to the front of the trailer without any hesitation. I had to stop my jaw from dropping and Kirk later admitted so did he. This, the same steer that had said the weekend before, "No way, and no how!"
By this time I was so thrilled to concede that I was a complete idiot I would have announced it to the world. Actually I have since I'm blogging about it. But this idiot had her steer loaded into the trailer and was now free to hop back in the warm truck with the kids. That's success by any idiots standards. I figure being made to look dumb is a part of life and I don't really mind since it meant I'd found someone to whom I could learn from and you know how much I love to learn something new. So though I was freezing my fanny off in my blue jeans I stopped to quiz Tim a little. Next time, I just might be able to whisper sweet nothings in a steers ear and get him to load easily too. After all, he's taught me to do it with horses and this was a little different but not too much. But, if we are really blessed I won't have to because we'll be processing the steer ourselves.
Tomorrow, I'll be doing a photo challenge but I promise I'll blog about making orange extract along with showing you how I fixed the Intarsia hat.