Tag Archives: Certain Man’s Wife

Cutting the “Grumpy” Out

Some of the most exciting times of our lives as farmers have centered around the bovines that Certain Man raises for meat.  As noted in the last post, there was considerable excitement when one such animal jumped the fence and gave all of us a run for our money.  In another post, I may tell the story of the night we had that supper when we invited everyone who helped that day to a mystery supper — but there has been another story brewing over very recent happenings at the very same farm involving the same sort of animal.

Certain Man has gotten little Jersey bulls over the last couple of years because they were not as hard on his pocketbook as the ones of the Holstein lineage.  These beautiful little critters are smaller than their big boned counterparts, and CM was loathe to deprive them of their manhood, contending that they would “convert better” if they were given some time before becoming steers.  This has always been a point of concern to his wife, especially since there were times in the past when the intent was to wait until the last possible minute — and then, somehow, it got “too late” and then the last couple months of the lives of our two year meat projects were spent “being careful” whenever Certain Man was in the same pen or even pasture as the bulls.

And this happened again this year.  Our yearling Jersey bulls had escaped the precautionary operation and had matured at an alarming rate.  One of the three was docile.  He was actually the smallest of the three, and he spent his time quietly going about his business, eating grass, not paying much attention to anything.  The second of the three was suspiciously bossy, occasionally acting like he wanted to start something, and he wasn’t to be trusted too far.  The third one, the biggest and oldest, was a basket of fury and hormones and aggression.

From the time he was a small calf, he wouldn’t take much from anyone.  Spunky, feisty and strong, he grew worse as the months passed.  By the time he was nine months old, he was the boss of everything, even the older steers that were about to go to market.  But this spring and summer, he became incorrigible.  He would bellow and snort at anything that took his attention that was out of the ordinary that he didn’t approve of.  He would bang his horns against the fence and against the side of the barn, tearing holes in the tin on the side of the entrance to his pen.  He would dig big holes in the pasture and loudly make known his displeasure with anything and anyone.

“You need to do something about that bull,” I would tell Certain Man.  “He’s going to hurt someone!”

“I know,” Certain Man would say.  “I really need to do something, but I am pretty sure it’s too late to band them.  I think I’m going to see if Billy or someone will bring his chute down here and give me a hand.  I think I’m going to need to get the vet.”

And then more time would go by, and someone would mention something about that “bull sounds really cross!”  or “What in the world is wrong with that one of your cows?  He makes a terrible fuss!” or (the thing that really bothered me) “Our kids won’t go out there to talk to your cows any more.  They’re scared of them!”

“Daniel,” I would say on occasion, “I’m really afraid that someone is going to get hurt.  Most of the kids who come know not to get into the pasture, but what if one of them does?  Or what if he gets out?”

“I know,” he would say, impatient at my nagging, but also not sure of what he should/could do.  “I really need to do something.”

And then, one day while he was in the pen, the bull started at him, pawing and snorting.  Certain Man had the handle of a pitchfork at the ready, and he walloped him a good one and caught him just below his horns.  It was a hefty blow, and the bull backed up, shook his head and came at him again.  This time Certain Man got a solid whack across his nose and brought him to his knees.  He got up and turned away.  As he rounded the corner leaving the barn, CM saw that his nose was bleeding. This particular incident had two effects upon Certain Man.  He began to make sure that his pitchfork handle was always handy and he began to actively plan a time in the very near future when he could take care of this militant aggressor’s basic motivation.  As for the subject at hand, he appeared to be watching for his chances, but was always very respectful when he caught sight of the pitchfork handle.

The bellowing and snorting and pawing and clanging of the horns against anything close at hand was not lost upon our observant granddaughter.  Ever one to be at her Grandpa’s side whenever possible, she was very concerned about the state of affairs in Grandpa’s barn.  On more than one occasion, she complained to me about that fussy bull.  “I don’t like how that cow sounds, Grammy,” she would say.  “He sounds so mad!”

Then came the day when Certain Man’s vet, Dr. Christina Dayton-Wall stopped by to check on the newest member of Certain Man’s herd, a lively, beautiful little jersey bull calf.  She checked him over thoroughly, gave him a vaccination and a shot and pronounced him healthy and strong.  All the while, the belligerent fellow bellowed his protests at the intrusion into his domain.  Certain Man seized the opportunity to tell her about his troubles with the mad bull and asked her opinion about the feasibility of “banding” or whether she thought the present state of affairs would demand a knife.

“No question,” was her cheerful reply.  “They will need an operation.  And I wouldn’t wait much longer if I were you.  There’s no way I’d get into the same pen with those fellows without some kind of protection.  They mean business!”

“Would you do it?” Asked Certain Man. “I have a friend who can bring his chute that he uses for hoof trimming and we could contain them.  I’d like to do all three.”

“I’d be delighted to do it!” said his pleasant young female vet.  (He later told me that he just can’t figure out why the females think this is such a fun thing.  “They’re all tickled to death to help out with this,” he said woefully.  “They just don’t have a clue!”)

And so they set the date for a Monday at three in the afternoon.  But that Monday was still almost two weeks away.  I worried about whether we would make it that long without someone getting hurt.  It seemed like things were getting worse and worse.  Our neighbor, Mr. Fox, who cuts our pasture for hay, parked his tractor in the adjourning shed one afternoon and created an episode of pawing holes in the side pasture, great bellowings and clattering of horns that went on until dark.

“You’ve got yourself a crazy animal there,” Mr. Fox told Certain Man.  “All I did was park my tractor in the shed and he stood at the gate and acted like he was gonna’ come through it.  He acted like he was crazy.  And they have big holes dug in that back pasture that I cut for hay.  One was two feet deep.  Something’s wrong with him!”

That was the night that Charis and I were walking out by the garden, checking on the produce and watching Grandpa doing his never ending work in the shed and barn and chicken houses.  We had also been drawn by the racket in the pasture that just wouldn’t stop.

“Grammy, that cow is really grumpy!” Said Charis, a little apprehensively.  “I don’t like how he sounds.”

“I know, Charis,” I said to her, “He really is grumpy!  Grammy doesn’t like it either!  But do you want to know a secret?”

She looked expectantly up into my face. “Yes!”

“In just a few days,” I told her conspiratorily, “Grandpa’s vet is going to come and Billy Bender is coming to help and they are going to cut that cow’s ‘grumpy’ out!  And then he won’t be so grumpy!”

She laughed.  “Really, Grammy???”

“For real, Charis!” I promised.  “That’s exactly what they are going to do!”

She did a little happy dance and then she went home with her Mama and I told Middle Daughter and Youngest Daughter all about my wonderful explanation.  I was rather proud of myself for being able to explain such a delicate situation to a six year old.  I was surprised when Middle Daughter looked at me aghast.

“Mom!” she exclaimed with consternation.  “That was a terrible thing to tell her!’

I was surprised.  “Why is that so terrible?”

“Because that is what her Mama always threatens her with when she is being grumpy!  She teases her and says, ‘You better get happy, or I’m gonna’ cut your grumpy out’ and Charis is probably really confused about this whole thing.”

I decided not to worry about it.  Some things can just be handled by parents who made the situation in the first place.  Except that a few nights later, walking with Charis, I noticed that she was thoughtful.  And then, there came the question.

“Grammy, what is the ‘grumpy’ that they are going to cut out?”

(Gulp!  I don’t consider this my territory of responsibility!)

(Oh, Lord, what do I say???) “Well, Charis,” I began slowly, but was suddenly struck by a stroke of Providential brilliance.  “The boy cows have a gland that makes them act grumpy as they get older.  The vet is going to come and take that gland out and then they won’t be so feisty and mean.”  And that satisfied our curious six year old granddaughter. Let her Mama answer any further questions.

The day finally came without any damage to the humans that traverse the lands at Shady Acres, and the good vet came to find that Certain Man had done his work (as usual) with careful attention to safety and without fault.  The three bulls were shut in their pens with only one way out — and that was into Billy Bender’s sturdy chute.  Once they were securely restrained, Dr. Dayton-Wall gave a little shot of Lidocaine that they hardly felt and before they knew what had happened, they were out the other end of the chute, steers!

They were strangely subdued that first hour or so.  They grazed a bit, but there was no pawing or bellowing.  As the evening wore on, they were more and more languid. Eventually they stopped trying to motor at all.  The biggest fellow — the most maniacal, lay out in the field like he was dead, just giving an occasional melancholy flip to his tail — lifting it up about six inches and sadly dropping it down again.  There was no noise.  At all.  The pasture around Shady Acres’ barn was almost spooky with the change in atmosphere.  But eventually, they realized that they weren’t going to die after all, and began to graze and gingerly walk about.

“Any bellowing or carrying on?” I asked Certain Man two mornings later.  Dr. Dayton-Walls had warned us to be careful for ten days to two weeks.

“It will take them that long to get rid of the ‘boy stuff,'” she said cheerfully.  “Don’t trust them until you know how they are going to be.  Those guys, particularly the big one, could really hurt someone!”

Certain Man grinned.  “Nope!” he said.  “Not a bit.  No pawing, no clanging against the fences and buildings, no digging, no nothing!  These guys are different animals!”

“Do they seem to be okay?” I asked, suddenly wondering if such an alteration could kill them.

“Fine as can be,” he told me.  “They just don’t act like they care about anything.  They are eating and grazing and just as calm as they can be.”

Several days later, I was outside when I heard a noise.  It was a gentle mooing sound that our steers would make when they thought it was time for Certain Man to feed them.  I had never heard this particular sound from these animals.  I stood in the side yard and thought about what a nice sound that occasional, controlled mooing was.  I thought about how nice it was to not worry that someone was going to get hurt on our farm by an angry animal.  I thought about the meat that we should have to share with our family and others when these steers would be full grown.  I thought about how “cutting a grumpy out” can be so pivotal in the atmosphere of a family farm.  And I thought — well, I could draw all sorts of analogies, here, but I think I won’t.

And that is the news from Shady Acres where Certain Man continues to protect and provide for us in so many ways.  Where whatever it was that happened on that Monday afternoon was final — there was no more aggression on the part of any of the newly altered bovine males.

And where Certain Man’s Wife gives very grateful praise for a job well done.

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Certain Man’s Wife Chases the Bull

This is an old story — as indicated by the date in the first sentence.  The reason I am posting it is that — I have another story about the bovine creatures at Shady Acres that I’ve been wanting to tell — and wanted to reference this story.  Alas and alack!  This story, though in my book, is so old, it never appeared in a blog posting.  Many of you have heard it.  Many of you have read it in my book.  But for those who haven’t — here is one of my favorite stories about life at Shady Acres and the neighborhood that we call home.  Sadly, two of the integral people who helped on this infamous day have gone to their reward.  I would just like to say that I deeply miss my dear friend, here referred to as “Good Wife Joan,” as well as our neighbor, Roland Willey, also a dear friend and trusty neighbor.

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Now it came to pass on the very first day of September, in the year of our Lord, 2004, that Certain Man’s wife was complacently enjoying a busy morning of preparing for State Inspection. On impulse, that very morning, she had hired a friend, Alma Miller, to help clean the kitchen cabinets, and CMW was working at cleaning the bedroom that was to be inspected.  It was a beautiful morning.  There was a good breeze, the sky was blue, and all was well.

CMW had other reasons to rejoice.

For several weeks,one of the male bovines that Certain Man kept for meat had been showing signs of aggression, indeed, had charged Certain Man on a number of occasions, with great bellows and kicking up of the dirt. Now this Meany Pest of a bull was only 18 months old.  Certain Man had not had him neutered because he had never had a problem with other bulls when he hadn’t,and he liked it that an un-neutered bull would convert better to meat.  Since he only keeps his meat animals for two years, it had never been a problem. Until now.

This turn of events had been enough disconcerting to Certain Man that he had called the Honorable Allen Beachy and had him come and “band” the two young calves that he was raising for the spring of 2006.  That done, he also called the butcher shop and arranged for the slaughter of Meany Pest.  Immediately.  With the traffic of people and children through the property of Certain Man, he didn’t want to take a risk.  It was too late to tackle the neutering business with Meany Pest.  Unfortunately,slaughter time was a few weeks out, so close watch had been kept until this very morning when Friend, Tommy Eliason had come with his cattle trailer and hauled him off.  CMW drew a great sigh of relief that was matched by her husband.

Now, at the same time that CM had procured Meany Pest, he had gotten another male calf which grew up along side of MP.  What Meany Pest had in aggression, Second Fellow, though also un-neutered,  made up for in friendliness and complacency.   When Tommy Eliason came to pick up MP, Second Fellow wanted to go, too, and tried to stick his head into the truck..  Certain Man and Tommy enjoyed a chuckle at the friendly fellow’s expense.  They had to chase him away.

When Certain Man came in from sending Meany Pest off, he said to CMW, “Now,I locked the other three in the front pasture. Second Fellow is pretty upset, and I don’t want him getting out.”

Certain Man has always maintained fences in proper order, and it is a rare day when any of his animals get out.  He learned the hard way that it is no fun to have creatures running around at night on busy roads.  So he has a high tensile fence that has electric on the inside of it, nearly all the way around his pasture.  He has a four foot high board fence that runs for a short distance between buildings, and he keeps all his fences in good repair.  He has a large back pasture,well fenced, where he allows the animals to run around and graze, but it is behind the chicken houses, and out of deference to CMW, who cannot see back there from the house, he decided to confine them on the smaller, front pasture,where they could get into the barn if they wanted to.

The morning was so pleasant that the windows were open in the house, and all morning, Second Fellow was protesting loudly.  Around eleven o’clock, he sounded louder and nearer, and Youngest Daughter of CM and CMW went to look what was going on.

“Oh, my goodness, MOM, there is a bull out.  A BIG Bull.  Oh, my, it is one of the big ones, Mom!!!”

Certain Man’s Wife went out the back door to the deck, and sure enough, there was Second Fellow, prancing across the yard.  Behold, her heart made a very fast trip to her shoes.  He looked so determined and “bullish.”   She looked around for ammunition, and laid her hands upon a Stanley broom that was conveniently leaning against the deck.  She hollered for Youngest Daughter to call her father, and took out across the yard as fast as her 50 year old body would allow her.  In the past,getting animals back into their pens has been challenging but not impossible,and she had a great deal of optimism as to how quickly she would conquer again.

But something had happened to Second Fellow.  He had caught wind of a heifer in heat who belonged to a neighbor.  He was determined to seek her out.  By this time, Friend Alma had seen the predicament, and had come to join the fray. CMW sent Youngest Daughter out to the cow pen to open the gate.  Youngest Daughter thoughtfully locked the two younger (now) steers in the barn, and opened the large gate wide to the front pasture.  Friend Alma’s young son stood on the deck and yelled.

Second Fellow saw two determined humans coming across the yard, and was suddenly urged to run in the direction of the road.  He lowered his head and charged blindly toward the poorly armed females who were supposed to be directing him in the way that he should go.  Whop! Went the broom, scarcely making contact, but diverting him slightly. Friend Alma and CMW ran to and fro, trying to herd obstinate Second Fellow towards the barn.  Every time they achieved a few yards, down would go the head, and with a bellow, back the bull would charge.  CMW noticed that he was not kicking up any dirt with his bellow, but it did not comfort her heart very much.  It occurred to her that there were many guardian angels standing between the bull and the two inadequately armed females, for time and time again, he would head for them, only to turn aside in the nick of time.  Unfortunately, it was pretty obvious who was winning the battle of the wills despite angelic protection.

After perhaps five or six time of attempting to head him off at the road, kindly neighbor, Eddie,noticed that there was considerable difficulty going on in the yard across the road.  He and neighbor Steve left their task of putting siding on the house and came to help.  One of them had a stick, and CMW had her faithful Stanley broom, but otherwise the crew was unarmed.

Said CMW, “I surely do wish Daniel would get here!”

Said Kindly Neighbor Eddie, “What would he do?  Does he have a secret?”

“Not that I know of,” said CMW heatedly, “but it would be HIS problem!”

About then, Kindly Neighbor Eddie’s wife,Joan, appeared to lend her strong arm, and a shiny  red convertible also stopped.  Friend Bethany had seen the dilemma and decided to help, too.  CMW thought ruefully that RED was not especially the color that she had in mind for the present situation, but there was no doubt that help was needed, so she welcomed the extra body.  By now there were fully seven people in hot pursuit of seemingly demented bull.

They managed to chase Second Fellow up the chicken house lane for a short distance, when he suddenly caught on to the idea that it was not the right direction.  He turned and lowered his horns and headed back out the drive.  Sticks and brooms and bodies had no effect upon him whatsoever, and the posse scattered before him in grave disarray.  He headed out towards the road again, and then turned and trotted along the edge of the fenced woods where he was sure that his intended was hiding.  He bellowed and stopped and sniffed and bellowed and trotted.  Of course, all the traffic on the busy road beside CM’s farm were beginning to take note, and cars were going by slowly while gawking at the motley crew, and some were pulling off to see if there was something they could do.  Chicken trucks and work vans, jalopies and mini vans, town cars and meter readers got all jammed up on the road.  CMW’s face was as red as a turkey gobbler, and not just from exertion.  WHY DIDN’T CERTAIN MAN COME HOME???

Then the owner of the heifer, Neighbor Willey, came forth from his house down the road.  He had probably heard rather than seen the hubbub, guessed what the problem was, and secured offending female far from the site of the battle.  He picked up a sturdy stick and came to help, too.

With his approach, Second Fellow decided to turn around and head back up the fence line towards Shady Acres.  With great difficulty and many yells and whops with the weapons, the Bull was directed towards the back pasture.  CM had been called again, and he informed frantic Youngest Daughter that he was heading for home (in earnest with his state truck and his flashers going). CMW was pretty sure that they would be getting the bull in right before he got there, and that is exactly what happened.  Just before he sped in the lane, Neighbors Eddie and Steve managed to drive him into the back pasture and hook up the electric fence.

Things started to calm down a little then.  CMW was panting and tired, and the neighbors were saying friendly things about how “That’s what neighbors are for…” and CM was going back to bring Second Fellow to the front pasture and secure him there.  CMW was heading out towards the barn when she saw Second Fellow come around the edge of the barn at a gallop.  At this inopportune time, she remembered that she did not know how he had escaped in the first place.  It suddenly occurred to her that the two little ones had been inside the fence the entire time he was out.  It didn’t make sense.  A great feeling of dread came over her as she saw him make a straight bee-line for the four foot wooden fence.  Was there a break in it somewhere?  She watched in disbelief as Second Fellow trotted up to the fence and in one smooth motion was OVER it!  If it hadn’t been so terrible, it would have been beautiful. A perfect Olympic jump.

Believe me, there was some shrieking going on then! Certain Man jumped in his truck and headed out the chicken house lane,trying to head him off.  If it had been his own pick up instead of his work truck, he said that he would have run into the critter, but since he needed to be careful with the state’s property, he was unable to stop him.  Once again, out on the road,traffic stopped, and neighbors running and helping.  CMW was inclined to go inside and pretend that she wasn’t home,but she ran and herded and whopped with her faithful Stanley broom until the entire group had successfully herded him to the entrance to the pasture.

Certain Man had gotten out his blacksnake whip and was making good use of it.  Just before going through the gate, Second Fellow made a mighty dash for freedom.  Certain Man snapped him soundly with the blacksnake whip, but lost his footing and fell into a very green, very stinky body of water that was left over from the latest rain.  His efforts to divert the bull were effective, though, and while he picked himself out of the muck, the neighbors closed in and Second Fellow went back into the pasture.

CMW and Friend Alma and Neighbor Willey, and Neighbor Eddie and his Good Wife Joan, took up positions along the board fence.  Good Wife Joan held the black snake whip, CM held the faithful Stanley broom and the guys stood there and looked MENACING. Youngest Daughter went into barn and called cheerfully to Second Fellow with promises of FEED.  Certain Man gave her instructions from the pasture. Second Fellow was drawn by the cheery voice.  He was tired from so much running.  He ambled over and looked in the door.  He went in a few feet.  She continued to coax and call him from behind the feed bunker.  Certain Man sidled over, out of sight, while she wove her deceptive web.  Finally, Second Fellow was far enough in to shut the metal gate behind him.  Oh,NO!  It was hooked to the wall.  Second Fellow acted like he was going to go out again.  Youngest daughter took advantage of the situation to scramble into the pen and unhook the gate so it could swing free, then went back to her wheedling, cajoling call.  Again, the pull was strong, and Second Fellow turned back towards the feed bunk.

Certain Man, muddy and stinky looked at the great mud hole between him and the gate and did not waver a single moment.  Good work shoes and all, he plowed through the mud that was deeper than his shoes and grabbed the gate.  Second Fellow made one final dash for freedom,but CM hollered mightily.  When Second Fellow paused, CM clanged the gate shut, and this time the offending animal wasfully trapped.  Metal bars and chains and cement would need to be moved for him to escape this time.

“Whew!” said everyone.

“That was fun,” said Good Wife Joan.  “Quite a diversion from a boring afternoon.”

Neighbor Eddie and Neighbor Willey did not say much.  CMW noticed that they were looking positively cheerful, though.

“I’m glad I was here!” said Friend Alma.  “I’ve had lots of experience chasing animals when I was a girl!”

“You aren’t half as glad as I am,” said CMW.  “What would I have ever done without help?”

“That’s what neighbors are for…” said Good Wife Joan, again.

“Well,” said CMW, “I am quite certain of one thing.  There is going to be a steak dinner one of these days and everyone who helped is going to be invited!”

That was well received, and the neighbors went back to their jobs and CMW went back into the house to cool off and rest her weary bones. CM, after making double sure of everything in the barn, came back into the house to change his clothes and shoes and to go back to work.  He would have to call this time at home his lunch hour for the day, and CMW felt sorry for him.  But the bull was in, he was cleaned up, and he could get into his air conditioned truck and leave.  That didn’t sound like too bad a deal to CMW.  She needed to keep on getting ready for the coming inspections.  But first, she needed to write a story.

So, that is the news from Shady Acres, where Certain Man is working on a new electric fence that will compliment a particular board fence, Certain Man’s Wife’s face still feels hot and her knees feel weak, and Youngest Daughter is the only one of the children who was witness to the events of this momentous day.

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My Turn, My Book

One of the byproducts of reviewing Dorcas Smucker’s book is that people have remembered that I also have a book and I’ve had had a resurgence of (well, actually TWO) orders for my very own book.

A little over a year ago, I self published a book of stories that have happened right here in Delaware on this chicken farm that belongs to Certain Man and me.  I still have quite a few available — somehow it was cheaper to print 500 than it was to print 200.  Don’t ask me why, but that is how it works.  I discovered after I had self-published that most book sellers will not handle self-published books.  I will know better next time — if, in fact, there is a next time.  I will also look for a title that has a little more catch and a LOT less bulk.  🙂

But for now, this book is still available:

book front coverBook Back

The cost is $14.00 each if you pick it up at our house or have somewhere that I can drop it off.

If you want it mailed, shipping and handling is 2.50 for the first book and if you order more than one, each additional one is an extra .50 for shipping.

You can order it by sending a check to

Mary Ann Yutzy

7484 Shawnee Road

Milford, DE 19963

You can order it through my e-mail which is MaryAnnYutzy@gmail.com.  However, my Beloved Son in Law has made it clear that I should have the check in hand before shipping the book — so I guess I had better listen to him.

 

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