Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blood and Gore

So, continuing the story of the cattle drive... well, actually after the cattle drive, we got them all sorted (and kudos to Sparky's girlfriend, she got right in there and helped sort, and worked her butt off) and went to trim horns on one heifer, but we forgot one very important aspect of the timing of this.

It was the full moon.

You see, during a full moon, animals, and people, will bleed heavier. Something to do with the tides, or some such. I've never looked into the reasoning behind it, but I've witnessed the fact personally several times.

Of course, with all of the hullabaloo, all of us experienced knowledgeable types forgot this simple staple of animal husbandry, so we whacked away at that heifer's horns, and it was a bloody mess.

See, inside a bovine's horn is actually a blood vessel. It doesn't go all the way to the tip of the horn, but in young cattle, it comes pretty close. If you time it right, it won't bleed heavily when you trim, and you'll be able to stop it with some handy dandy blood-stop powder.

If you time it wrong, you'll wind up with a cow in the chute with blood squirting out of her horns.

So, I ran for the blood stop powder (it was a long day, ok?) while Farmdad held his thumbs over the ends of the horns, and proceeded to get my hands bloody as I poured powder on then packed it in with my thumb.

When that didn't work, we brought over the branding irons and cauterized the vessels as well as we could, followed by more blood stop powder.

You know its a bad bleeder when you can't manage to cauterize it with something hot enough to leave a permanent, clear burn in a distinguishable pattern on something as tough as cow hide.

Shortly thereafter, E and T had to go, but not before E took a picture of himself with the bloody saw, like some kind of serial killer, and I snuck up behind him with my bloody hands.

Of course, we left little miss bloody cow in the chute for a while to make sure we had the bleeding stopped. The setup we have there, the calf cradle is at an angle to the cow chute. Since we needed more head control (and because this heifer was a wee bit big for the calf cradle,) we had the heifer in the cow chute. We also had a few calves we needed to brand, the ones that got away from us, or that the brand healed too much on last time. So, I was running the tail gate on the calf cradle, running a calf through, crouched down because that gate is heavy and I'm not, when I feel a light, warm spray on the side of my face.

Look over, and little miss heifer is squirting again. Let me tell you when you expect to look over and see a heifer snorting because she wants loose, and get a glimpse of a thin red stream headed your way, its enough to ruin a day. Especially when you can't do anything about it until you get the calf run in the cradle and the tail gate down.

So, E missed out on an excellent photo op, I had blood all over me (that hoodie will never be the same) and S, the vegetarian girl, looked slightly green. Meanwhile, Sparky and his girlfriend were having the time of their lives, jumping right in and helping out.

On a brighter note, S mentioned to me on the way home that she has decided, as a vegetarian, that all cows should die. She doesn't want to eat them, but she's in favor of everyone else doing it, and says she could possibly be paid enough money to eat beef now.

Of course, I could have done without the face full of cow blood. I looked at S afterwards and said "at least now you have an idea of why I am the way I am." Her reply?

"Nope. You're still just weird. All I know now is that you're even weirder than I thought."


Farm.Dad said...

Ill be back over there tomorrow dealing with the black cow and fence , so i should be able to take a couple of hours if needed to really look for S's cellphone where it was missed . Will notify you asap if i find it hun .

equine_05 said...

Ah, yes, cautery. Smells great too, huh? I'm a pre-vet major... I can relate to this entry! Great blog, by the way. I'm a faithful reader.

Farmgirl said...

Thanks Equine_05! I appreciate all of my readers!

The smell wasn't bad on this one, since it was horn and we were only cauterizing a small area at a time... the smell of burning hair and skin from the branding kind of overrode it.

Anonymous said...

The thing about the moon phase causing heavier bleeding... that's just like if you dig a hole during the wrong moon phase, you won't have enough dirt to fill it back over. It's the moon's effect on gravity just like the tides. I don't know why either, but I know deer season's better when the full moon's up during the day too.

I remember this one time I was working ropings and team pennings and I don't recall which this happened at... I was up in the tower with the timer and running orders, but these two guys I know were down there at the roping chute with the cows... all these events took place at the same arena. They decided one of the corrienteX's needed de-horning, so they sawed it off right there in the roping chute. Then they realized they didn't have that blood stop powder and one of 'em was hollering "throw some dirt on it and let's go". Aside from infection, I don't know the difference in effect not having had direct experience with de-horning. I *can* tell you though, those two don't seem too aweful smart sometimes.