Saturday, August 11, 2012

Best Laid Plans

I must learn to be careful what I write. Just as soon as I put fingertips to keyboard and publish a post, the universe conspires to change things up on me again. A week ago Thursday, I told you how Chuck was taking flying runs at his elders but Mabel was not. The next day, she decided to outdo her brother. As with all other things, she puts even more energy and enthusiasm into her latest tricks than does Chuck. While Chuck sneaks up from behind, Mabel is now launching full-frontal assaults. While her vertical lift on approach is impressive, my joy at her athleticism is somewhat tempered by the fact that she is not nearly so easily parried as the boy buff.  Trying to defend against both simultaneously has quickly put paid to any notion I had about relaxing in the pasture with these two.

And it's not just me. Mabel took to play charging Effie and Eschol on the other side of the electric fence. I don't know if Eschol couldn't take the taunting or if it was the agitation of yet another flash flood Friday afternoon (no lasting damage this time--just lots of black walnut limbs that had to be removed from the electric fences), but I awoke around 5:30am Saturday to the sounds of a very unhappy buffalo.

Effie was racing back and forth through the fish pond completely beside herself, grunting like crazy. I went over toward the barns to check on the others and Effie followed close behind. A very saggy electric fence tipped me off right away that Eschol had unilaterally decided to reunite the herd. Something about the sound of flood waters really seems to get him going. I assumed he was up in the big barn with Audrey and the calves, so I raced to erect the electric fence behind the big barn that serves as my only protected access when the bull is in residence. Then I had to take down the electric fence that Eschol had jumped to let Effie through before he spotted me. I think Eschol was well-pleased with himself and was thoroughly occupied with re-establishing his position as king of the barn. Me, I wasn't too pleased about all that excitement before breakfast (and more importantly, before coffee).

Well, so much for my idea about hanging out with the calves. And letting Audrey have the good grazing on the Booth to herself. The reunited herd complicates life for me but it also simplifies things (only one water tank, one mineral block, one herd to move....). On the whole, I think they're much happier being back together. There was a day or two of Eschol chasing the calves but they are both fast and sure of hoof these days so they were able to keep ahead of his horns for the most part. I'm glad they had a few weeks to get strong. Eschol didn't let them get much nursing done in that first day of reunion but things have calmed down considerably. He's still trying to mate with Audrey and Effie and that's not great but they know how to resist his advances. It's the barn that suffers when he gets frustrated. And Audrey got a little roughed up by Eschol and Effie as they re-established the pecking order but no lasting damage that I can see.

On the plus side, the calves are learning to wallow properly. Audrey didn't waste any time once she got access to the big wallow again. I went out one morning to find this adorable scene:

Baby's first wallow. Mabel took to it just like she'd been doing it forever. I can't wait 'til she starts submerging her head in the water tank and blowing bubbles like her biological mother, Effie. And no worries about getting stuck in the mud. When she was done she hopped right out from the deepest part of the wallow.

She was in a playful mood that day. First, she went over to bug her brother.

Then she bounded over to check out the lady with the camera.

Then she spied Eschol and Effie up the hill. Maybe they'd like to play. First, gotta get mom out of the wallow and collect Chuck.

Chuck was way ahead of her. He bounded up the hill and nosed Effie, then made a run at Eschol. But as soon as Eschol started to run at him, he made a big course correction and ran up into the barn. Could Chuck be chicken? Just a good survival instinct, I think.

Meanwhile, Mabel made her way up the hill with Audrey. Effie met them halfway and I watched to see if she would show any interest in her calf after all this time.

Nope. Only a little annoyance. Mabel ducked behind Audrey to avoid Miss Shaky Horns then they all proceeded toward the wet-weather creek. Mabel gave it another try, approaching Effie from behind but Effie just walked off so Mabel bounded back to Audrey. I'm not sure if Mabel knows that Effie is her birth mom or if it matters to her. She may just be checking her out the new big creature in her life. I've since seen her do the same with Eschol, fearless little girl that she is.

The rains have continued here, nearly every day. The barn is horribly soggy but the wallow is full. Good thing, too, because it's getting a lot of use now.

And that, my friends, is this week in buffalo.

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