FARM UPDATE: CATTLE DROVING
Last week we sold some cattle. This meant droving three over-600kg steers along the road for the 2km trip to the neighbours' cattle yard, and it's a bitumen road with things like milk trucks coming by occasionally.
We actually had four steers in that lot. The fourth one couldn't go because he hurt his foot / shoulder (unclear which; nothing broken, no infection, no swelling) and therefore can't be transported. He's been limping six weeks without getting worse or better, so he's staying with the three little steers and we'll give him another month to see if he's going to come good. If not, we're going to have to eat him ourselves, because he can't go on a truck like this. Occasionally cattle here will injure themselves playing or running down a dam wall; it's only the second time in ten years we've had a lame cow. The first one eventually recovered, but it's not like you can catch them and give them a sports massage or an icepack or anything!
Getting cattle to the neighbours' place is always a bit of a rodeo / fitness run. We actually do this with our bicycles, because cows run faster than us and we need to be able to keep up with them so we don't lose them somewhere (and we can't take horses or the dog safely on the public road for this, the speed limit on that road is 110 km/h and people drive like lunatics). The cattle aren't always quiet; sometimes they run like mad and we're flat out on our bikes keeping up with them. At other times they try to hop over fences or go down roads they aren't supposed to, and that part is a bit stressful, and involves a bit of drama and pushing them back the other way if necessary. The dog with some of our past dairy steers
The last time we sold cattle, two years ago (before the drought), one of the heifers jumped clean over the fence back into our farm when they were halfway up the road, and hid in the middle of the forest for the rest of the afternoon, so we put the other six heifers back in with her, cancelled our transport to the saleyards, and tried again the following week, when we finally got all seven of them to the neighbours' yards.
Those were beef breed and a bit wild; the three we sold last week were dairy steers, brought up by humans, so they were much easier to handle. They were very leisurely most of the way. Crossing the road into the neighbours' big scary orange driveway was the big boo-hoo, it always is with groups of cattle - they've walked on bitumen for the first part of the trip, then go up to a sand track parallel to the road, and then they are supposed to cross the road later on, and you'd think they thought the orange driveway was a river full of piranhas...
Eventually they crossed over, but not until several cars had come while they were starting to go into the road and then we had to start again after collecting them from 100m further up the sand track again a couple of times... you really need three people for that - one right, one left, one behind - and we are only two, but the neighbour turned up after ten minutes of toing and froing on the road... (The neighbour has paddocks both sides of the road, and told us that years ago they had one cow that point blank refused to cross the bitumen, so this particular cow had to be trucked
over the road crossing every year!)
Got good money for them - $2.58 per kg liveweight = over $1,700 per steer, when they were paying only around $1,000 for them when the market was low back in December...
We thought we'd be able to fix up our driveway from part of the proceeds, but with COVID-19 and the expected loss of our Airbnb income for a while, we may now hold off and see if the other steer comes good and can be sold along with the three yearlings. We don't normally sell yearling beef, but for the next month a high demand will exist, and it would be more economical for us to sell them early and re-stock with weanlings because of this. If we can do that, the driveway will definitely get fixed...if not, then we may have to park the car 20m from the house again on the wettest days of winter. Ah well, there are worse things in the universe.