Big Sissy Boy
Here’s the black steer (half Holstein, half Jersey). He’s all alooooone, and is most unhappy.
Here are the three Jersey steers.
We were out of grass on the south end of the farm, so needed to move sheep and steers across our little wooden bridge to the north end of the farm, where there’s more grass.
Here’s the bridge.
Here’s the shaded path they take to the new pasture once over the bridge.
One evening Melissa moved the sheep across the bridge. There is much baa-ing and hooves pounding but the sheep know if they can be brave for the ten seconds it takes to cross the bridge, there will be great grass on the other side. (I need to take a photo some day—it’s a moving wall of white.)
The steers, however, have never been across the bridge. After she moved the sheep, she herded the steers up to the bridge. With much coaxing and dangling of luscious green leaves, she persuaded two of them to cross the bridge. They stood in their new pasture and mooed sadly for the two left behind (the black steer and a Jersey), who did their share of mooing.
I went down later and tried to get the two across with a bucket of corn. They’d lean in over the bridge, reaching as far as they could with neck and tongue toward the bucket, but they weren’t stepping onto the bridge.
Here’s the stile we use to take a short cut to the bridge. It’s a clever piece of equipment that used to be used more often when people walked across fields and pastures and needed a way to cross over without a gate.
The next day Melissa and I combined forces. We pushed at their rumps, which was a silly thing to do because the steers weigh 1000 pounds. We poked them with sticks. We tried to lure them with wild grape leaves. We scolded and cajoled for an entire hour.
Finally I launched into my “This is ridiculous” speech, an articulate and compelling presentation about why it was time to stop, that the darned steers would never cross the bridge and that we were wasting our time. Melissa and the Jersey exchanged a glance, then he stepped onto the bridge as if he’d done it every day, ambled across the bridge and up into the pasture.
Now it was just the black steer, and he was having none of it. I gave up and went back to the house. Melissa tried for awhile longer, then gave up, then tried the next morning, and finally brought the steer up to the barn so at least he’d have us around so he wouldn’t be so lonely.
We’re not surprised it was the half Holstein that wouldn’t cross. Temple Grandin told me that while she dislikes the use of cattle prods, sometimes you have to use them with Holsteins, as they get balky and will just stop walking.
In all fairness, if we’d taken the steers across the bridge when they were 300 pounds, we would have been able to push them across, and they would have seen it wasn’t all that scary.
But we’re still calling him Big Sissy Boy.