We do a lot of sorting on both the farm and the ranch. A typical sorting session around here usually involves me darting in and out of a herd of all black cows with my arms flapping wildly using the deepest voice I can muster to direct the herd with my eyes shut praying that the cow my husband wants will surrender herself to the appropriate location.
It rarely works.
Typically the cow of choice doesn’t have an ear tag and is only obviously completely different from all of the other black cows in the eyes of the true cowboy, my husband. But I, on the other hand, must find some unique piece of mud or poop or speck of color to figure out which one I’m supposed to be sorting. I’ve seen rodeos where there is a horse that sorts the cow all on it’s own, no reigning required. I have requested a horse like that for the past 12 years. But I have yet to receive one. I think sometimes my husband finds entertainment in this at my expense. Sorting a cow on foot is a true art and I’ve actually become quite good at it. I think it should be an actual rodeo event. Instead of a saddle, maybe they would award a new pair of Frye boots.
Money is always nice.
But even more interesting would be moving the cow from one pen to another without the use of panels to get it there. It could be an entire family event. It’s something we practice on our own farm more often than I’d like. Forget taking the time to hook up the trailer, all you need is a family of 5. Here’s how I do it. I strategically place a live 3 year old in a scientifically determined location where his presence will be particularly useful in directing the cow and hand him two large sticks in which he will hold outright as if they were barbed wire. So far, the cows do not know the difference. The other two older children will be put into position and directed to move from point A to point B when and only when the cow reaches the intended point X. It is a finely orchestrated performance. And many times it works.
I don’t even want to talk about what happens when it doesn’t work.