|Posted by Judi F Radel on February 6, 2012 at 9:35 AM|
Remember Mennie from the last blog post? This is Mennie all grown up, with baling twine, corn cobs, cob webs and blood running down her head. What the heck did we do to her? No, it wasn't some type of satanic ritual. We cut Mennie's horns off.
When Tommy bought Mennie as a little heifer calf, it was a bit hectic on the farm that summer. Fast forward over two years, I can report that our lives haven't eased up much. The rest of that summer would have been the perfect time to remove Mennie's horns when she was a calf. It just never got done. Unfortunately, that's how we roll around here...projects evenually get done- we just don't know when? Months, years, decades? Who knows with our family?
We try to keep up with dehorning calves, goats and anything else with horns on this farm. We don't like horns on our animals. It's a safety issue for us as well as our other animals. When an animal has horns, you can bet your buttered biscuits that that animal knows how to use their horns to get what they want. Although Mennie was fairly gentle around us with her horns, she wasn't so nice to the other cows and little calves. She would butt the other dairy cows with her horns to eat all the grain at the feeder. Basically, she was a bully. With the exception of our old family milkcow, "Milkcow" (original name, aye?) who doesn't let anyone or anything tell her what to do, Mennie was our version of the bully kid at school who steals the little kids lunch money, makes snide, derogatory comments and acts like a dimwit. Yep, that was our Mennie, the dimwit.
We kept putting off dehorning Mennie because first, it was summer, then she was pregnant with her calf, then she had such a hard delivery that we wanted to make sure she was healthy before we added anymore stress to her body. Fast forward to this past week; it's winter, she is recovered from delivery and she was becoming an even bigger bully with the other cows. Milkcow was the only one who could keep her straight but Milkcow couldn't settle all the disputes all the time. You know, Milkcow does have to take time for herself once in a while. Chewing her cud, basking in the sun and relaxing are how Milkcow likes to spend her days. If I would allow her to get a pedicure, she would be all over it.
Being the dimwit that Mennie is, she put her head and horns in a hayrack that she shouldn't have and got her head stuck. This is another valid reason not to have horns on animals; getting their horns stuck in fences, hayracks, etc. can often lead to death or other damage. We have a momma goat that got her horns stuck in a fence, laid in the hot sun for a few hours and until we found her, was on death's door. The goat survived but she definitely has brain damage. It's hard to tell when goats have brain damage because they are so goofy anyway but this girl has never fully recovered. Since Mennie was already stuck and wasn't going anywhere, it was the perfect opportunity for Cranky to cut those horns off.
When cutting off horns, there are a few items that you need to round up from around the farm first.
Here are the cattle dehorners. These are really old and are normally found hanging in our barn. (Duh! This is where we would need them so they should be kept in the barn but there was that one time that the dehorners couldn't be found anywhere on the farm so my daddy used a chainsaw to cut the horns off of a cow. Yeah. No kidding. Don't mess with my daddy, man. My daddy has always danced to the beat of his own drum his whole life.)
The dehorners look like some type of medieval contraptions, don't they? This particular dehorner is probably from the early 1900's so it's a possibility that they are over a hundred years old. And they still work just as good as they did hundred years ago. I know they are old because on this farm, we don't throw anything a way...EVER. We keep things forever. This can be seen as a good thing, if you like family history, sentimental items and never having to purchase things at the store because..."oh, there is one of those things laying around the farm, somewhere. It was your grandfather's." Oh my God, I have heard those words uttered a time or two in my lifetime.
If I ever thought about really getting into homesteading and taking up blacksmithing? My great grandfather's anvil is on the farm somewhere. Milking cows with a vacuum pump? Milker buckets from when my parents gave up milking cows are in the crawl space above a shed somewhere on the farm. Fixing up a Model T Ford? The steering wheel column is laying on a pile of stones...somewhere on the farm. There is also an old firetruck sitting in our pasture and an United States mailtruck in another pasture. Not sure what I could do with those but everyone needs a firetruck and a mailtruck, right? One never knows. Are you getting the picture, that whatever I need to pursue whatever tickles my fancy is probably here...somewhere on our farm.
But I digress. Back to the dehorning Mennie story.
After gathering up all the necessary items, Cranky whipped those horns off Mennie's head in a flash. It was a pretty simple process actually. First, he tied baling twine around the top of her head, acting like a tourniquet. He then placed corn cobs under the baling twine so that the twine didn't dig into her head. Next, he fanangled the dehorners around her horn, used his massive bulging forearm muscles (swooning here...please ignore this wife as she embellishes the story with adjectives to describe her hottie husband) and ever so quickly clipped off her horn. He did the same thing to her other horn, sprayed the Blu kote on both horn nubs, and then patted each nub with cobwebs to stop the bleeding. Why cobwebs? Because that's how my daddy did it when he dehorned cows, that's how my grandfather did it when he dehorned cows, that's how my great grandfather did it when he dehorned cows...are you seeing a pattern here? Wait...to be honest, I never knew my great grandfathers so I have no idea if they dehorned cows this way or not. I'm assuming they did...where else would my grandfather learned this method from? Maybe a sustainable agriculture conference in 1922? Regardless, not only do we keep many material things from my grandfathers', we honor their spirit by using the same farming techniques that they used . And yes, our punk children were helping with dehorning cows so I'm sure that they will dehorn their own cows the way their grandfather's did before them, if cattle are in their future. In fact, their job was to gather the cob webs and pat it down on the horn nub. So, again, why the cob webs? Cob webs very effectively stop the bleeding on the horn nub. You don't believe me? Ask any old time cattle farmer and I'm sure they will tell you the same method. Or better yet, next time you get a hemoraging gash on your body, put some cobwebs on it to stop the bleeding.
No worries, Mennie is fine. She didn't tell me if it hurt or not (unfortunately, I am not a cow whisperer and I don't speak fluent cow) but she didn't seem to mind as she continued eating out of the hayrack. She did seem a little ticked at me at milking time that evening but she is probably just mad that she can't be the dimwit bully on the farm anymore.
Categories: old time ways