We have a very small herd of little black cows, Lowline Angus mostly and maybe a few with questionable parentage. They spend their summers out on our range pasture and nearly the moment they unload they become secretive little squirrels in around and underneath the sagebrush. They’re difficult to count. I’ve spent a fair amount of time with a spotting scope in our upstairs bedroom being the nosy neighbor attempting to find little black lumps with legs. Is that one there? Nope, just a rock.
So after having a possibly ill-conceived old-fashioned cattle drive to the fall pasture thwarted, we decided to ensnare the cows by offering morning feedings of a bale of hay. For two weeks, by 7:00 a.m., I threw a single bale of grass hay into our makeshift corral and yelled, “Come, Boss! Come, Boss! Cooome Booosss!” Now this is a phase my grandfather yelled to his cows, ostensibly to notify the lead (boss) cow that food is to be had. But yelling “Come, Boss!” at the top of your lungs sounds funny. Go ahead step outside, cup your hands around your mouth, and give it a try. I’ll wait here.
Right? Hilarious. It comes out sounding like you are yelling “Come, Baaaaaas!” As if you’re Little Bo Peep looking for your sheep. It’s silly, but effective. After one week, I could yell and cows grazing down near the lake bottom would perk up their ears and come running, running at the sound of my voice. I felt mighty and powerful and Pavlovian.
This is the low-stress farming version of propping a box on a stick and string to trap a bird. It never worked as a kid, but, boy howdy, I was happy to casually walkover to the gate and quietly swing it closed when I was *pretty sure* all the cows were inside the corral. Only one of our older girls, munching happily, looked up as I clicked the latch and I think she winked at me.