Thursday, April 23, 2015


Prunella in Sept 2013.  She was born to June, the cow, in
June of that year.  She is named to rhyme with June, and after the
wild flowering perennial herb, Prunella.  
     I walked Prunella down the road.
She was calm and I was able to walk right next to her, just a short span of rope between us.  It felt like trust.  It felt like all the time and kindness put in with her was paying off.  I felt confident.  I know how to lead a cow down the road.
      Its spring time on the farm.  The grass is growing now.  The pasture down and across the road has a lot more to eat currently than the one here.  There were 17 cows on this pasture.  It was time to move some of the animals down the road to the other pasture.  Four of them willingly moved across the road at the gate.  Three others that we wanted to move would not go easily.  I knew that if we waited until tomorrow, I could put a halter on them and lead them peacefully down the road.  It would also be good practice for them, to have on a halter and be close to a human.   I knew it would be fun.  I love moving the animals like that.  They're big and its wonderful to have a powerful animal  trust me enough to walk down the road on a halter.
     Prunella went into the milk house in the morning and she just stood there, not going in to a stanchion.  I calmly approached her with a halter.  She let me gently slip it over her face and secure the buckle.  She was not confined, she could have moved, but she didn't.  I clipped the rope on and lead her out of the holding area, into the road.  She walked with me down the road.  I enjoyed the trip and let her take her time.  Sometimes I quietly spoke gentle encouragement, but mostly we were just quiet, walking.  It felt like partnership.
     When I got back to the milk house,  Nettle was already tied up with her halter and rope.  She came out of the holding area and into the road.  She didn't want me to be too close.  I let a long length of rope between us.  I paid attention to her energy and gently encouraged her forward sometimes.  Mostly she led me along.  She went into the new pasture with the other cows.  I tried to take her halter off and she resisted my being that close to her head.  I tried to hold her rope and close the gate but she pulled and got away.  I knew I could not safely allow her out in the pasture with a rope dangling from her halter.
        I followed her for a bit and she kept getting the rope caught under her feet so she was scared and couldn't get too far away.  Thankfully she stayed in the barnyard and did not run out into the larger pasture.  I kept following her and stayed focused on the rope, not looking at her to allow her to relax a bit.  I made a few grabs and she ran away scared.  I let her be for a minute and she started quickly munching on the thick, new grass.  I got down on my hands and knees, with my head towards her rear end.  I kept my eyes down, away from her head to let her relax and not create more intimidation.  I moved along the ground slowly towards her while she was munching and gently held still if she looked at me.  I made a grab for the rope and missed as she bounded away.  Nettle returned to eating and I got down on the ground again, slowly and calmly moving towards the rope.  Sending her gentle energy the whole time.  Letting her know I was going to help her by removing that halter, then leave her alone to be a cow.  She kept munching and I was able to get close with my rear towards her head.  I made a grab and reached the rope.  I stayed on my knees and held on.  She pulled away and I stayed down, not looking at her and not saying anything.  I stayed still and then quietly explained what I wanted to do.  I slowly got close to her and was able to release the buckle on the halter.  She jerked her head away and left me laying on the ground, halter and rope in my hand.
      Complete triumph.  I had done it.  All alone.  Caught a scared cow by her rope and stayed calm enough that she allowed me to remove her halter and set her free and keep her safe.  That felt so good.  I am good with the animals.  I know how to pay attention to their energy and I listen to what they need, which helps me get what I want.  Things like moving them to a lovely, lush pasture and keeping them safe.  We are partners.  I appreciate my relationship with each one of them, more than I am able to express.  They are true teachers and they stay true to themselves, allowing me to practice listening and respecting them as individual, independent beings.   Working with a cow is being in the flow.   It feels amazing.

Nettle in September 2014.  She was about two years old here and
had successfully given birth to her first calf.  Nettle is named
after her mother, Yarrow.  Both are wild herbs that grow
abundantly on the farm.  I collect and dry these plants for making
herbal tea.

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