It was as if a light switch went off in their heads and all at once they started to repeat the mantra…..
It was a wonderfully warm day on the farm, with temperatures reaching into the 60’s. Such temperatures were such a sharp contrast to only a few weeks earlier when we were still battling negative wind chill and cold, blistery days.
I was in the kitchen, preparing lunch for my son, when IT happened. As I was standing over the sink, rinsing off my hands, I noticed movement from the window and to my shock, our entire herd of 20 cows were approaching the house (within the perimeter fence, though!), coming from our – can’t see from the house – back pasture.
For whatever reason, my first instinct was to reach out my hand as if to stop the herd. Funny how our reflexes work. Well, instead of “stopping” the herd, I ended up knocking over an opened jar of pickles. Fun. After cleaning up the mess and reassuring myself that all the gates were closed in what we call the “house pasture” and that the cows would not get out, I took time to simply enjoy watching their antics. For the past couple months they have been confined to our back pasture hay bale grazing site. Well, technically speaking, I guess they were not completely confined as the bottom gate to their pasture had been left open all winter. With the height of the snow drifts in front of that gate, though, those cows weren’t going anywhere.
Well, as what often happens when the temperatures reach into the 60’s, those snow drifts started to melt and as what often happens with curious creatures like cattle, they started to explore and range. The realization that they were finally, after almost 6 months, walking once again on bare ground must have been both shocking and exhilarating for them.
Do you know what a cow thinks when she sees bare ground? I don’t know about you but with our girls, I can almost see them saying it……
For our cows, grazing constitutes their entire feeding regime – whether spring, summer or fall pasture grazing or wintertime hay bale grazing. Although our cows are very domesticated, they have strong, basic instincts to graze pasture and to range as a herd. Despite the offering of several good quality hay bales at their bale grazing site, our cows ranged out of their pasture in search of fresh grass. I call that one strong grazing instinct. That afternoon, they explored every square inch of our house pasture, searching for that elusive patch of green grass. When they had exhausted their efforts, I watched them trail back towards the back pasture. One cow was lagging behind the herd, still sniffing around for grass and when she realized that the herd was gone, she kicked up her hind legs, bucked in the air and was off! I call that one strong herd instinct!
These cows of ours are definitely creatures of – grazing – habit! 🙂
I like to think that the cows are just as happy as us humans that winter is finally letting up!
Carol Phillips says
Thank you so much for information and PHOTOS. It has really been helpful.