Mike, in a chuckling but supportive way, calls what I’m doing “playing cowboy”. He does all the dirty work and sometimes gets to enjoy the fun. I’m having fun house-sitting and watching a little bit of the farm. Really I’m watching the remaining expectant heifer — she’s a first time momma and Mike assigned me to periodically check on her.
Mike had kept the two heifers penned in an area just above the barn for the past week. A couple of days ago Mike decided they were close to calving and he moved them to nice grass below the barn. He reasoned the calves would be better off born on the grass than in the mud. One of the heifers calved mid-morning today.
Today, just in advance of a huge lightning storm, Mike and I went over and moved the heifer up the hill to the barn. If she needs help, Mike figured, he wouldn’t be working on the hillside in a huge lightning storm.
Every couple of hours I ride the four-wheeler 1/2 mile to the barn and look in on this Limousin heifer. She seems ready to pop but is holding out for some reason. So I slowly saunter into the barn without angling toward the heifer and I start talking to her. I am absolutely clueless what will work but I pretend I belong and know what I’m about.
She isn’t fooled. She watches me as I cluck and chat with her. I am only there to see if she is laboring and okay. This is interesting for me and I am enjoying the novelty. Different tasks, not much dirty work for me as I just find the girls and report back to Mike if I find anything wrong.
She might find me interesting too. I think she sees through me, knows I’m not the real Mike. The real Mike is the excellent cattle farmer, knows how to manage one-on-one or manage the herd. He can herd the cows on foot or with the four-wheeler equally comfortably.
It looked like he was working the cows with a quarter-horse today as he dodged and darted to guide the heifers up the hill toward the barn. I have used the four-wheeler to run back and forth to the barn and cruise a couple of the fields. The handling on asphalt is a little dicey with the flotation tires, and the terrain unknown under the carpet of grass.
But Mike zips around on the four-wheeler like he has been on it for years. And he apparently has — he told me this Honda four-wheeler is over twenty years old and he has had it more than ten years.
Mike serves as the cattle-man, farmer, veterinarian, investor, psychologist, and so many other roles I wouldn’t even know. He definitely knows his way around this business of raising Limousin cows. He isn’t playing cowboy — he’s the real deal.