This isn't a happy post. Nor a post about how to fence cows with polywire.
We had our first big loss on the farm today. Corrina, our 10 month old heifer cow died. More accurately, she strangled to death. Farming isn't always pleasant, although most of the time we really enjoy our new occupation.
I filled up the cow's water at 10am, all accounted for and all grazing away in their paddock. Later that day as I headed out to feed the pigs I glanced over at their pasture and noticed that the electric fence wire (known as 'polywire') was all over the place. Usually it's in a nice, tight rectangle where the cows are grazing.
I stopped the truck and walked over to the fence. It was a little incomprehensible at the time. The wire was pulled completely tight and Janis and Joplin were standing in the middle of a small, fenced off area. But it was a different area than the one I put up for them the day before. It was much smaller and there were broken fence posts everywhere. The wire extended into the previous day's paddock, pulled tight across the top of the grass, slowly dipping down in the distance.
I turned off the energizer. I didn't see Corrina. Maybe she got out, I thought. Strange that she wouldn't have stuck around Janis and Joplin, her only bovine friends. Cows like to stick together, they're known as 'herd' animals for a reason.
I got a little worried and I pulled on the wire to figure out where the loose end was. The whole time looking around for Corrina, calling her name, waiting for her head to pop out above the grass. The grass is so tall now you can barely see Janis' horns when she sits down to rest. No sign of Corrina. Surely she was around somewhere.
The wire wouldn't pull, it was stuck on something. I imagined a big rose bush on the end, all tangled up around the polywire. So I walked the wire across the paddock. At the end lie Corrina. Bound at the heels and hung around the neck.
It was my fault. I didn't realize at the time, but as I back-tracked around the pasture, looking at Janis, looking at the broken fence posts and the tangled wire. I knew what happened. All the fence posts were broken around the water trough. The water trough was in a narrow portion of the paddock. I had put the water trough there, and as it was filling I wondered what would happen if Corrina and Janis went to get a drink at the same time.
You see, Janis and Corrina didn't get along well. Janis didn't like it when Corrina got too close. And with those big horns of hers she could easily scare Corrina running. I envisioned Corrina getting spooked by Janis and simply running behind her to the open pasture. I thought about it and didn't think it would be a big issue. I was wrong. And when you're wrong in farming it's not a slap on the wrist.
Corrina ran into the fence wire when Janis chased her out. As she got chased and shocked she freaked out even more. She couldn't escape the wire and so she ran faster. When the rope tangled she was stuck, strangled by the polywire.
Lesson learned. Don't put the water in a narrow part of the paddock.
You can't know everything before you start farming, but you sure wish you could.
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