In case you have forgotten, because it’s been soooo long since I wrote, we were talking about cows and magic straws. You know, as in reproduction, artificial insemination, bull by product filled pixie stix.
Okay, so I am feeling a bit like I should provide a disclaimer. When you work on a farm there are just some things that are part of every day, poo and reproduction among the major ones. So if you are squeamish on either of these topics but like to think about cowing and such, be forewarned and head on over to The Pioneer Woman for more romantic cowgirl stuff. Otherwise… here we go… for the rest of the story.
The last time we talked, the girls had had their well cow checkup, their cycles manhandled into cycle synchronization. We had picked out the bulls. Well, we picked out the picture of the bulls that we thought would suit, their chosen byproduct residing in a freezer somewhere just south of College Station.
The day arrived for the girls to be taken in to rest before the next morning of their insemination and having managed to enlist my favorite youngest son, we loaded the girls. I should say they, as in Neil and Josh, loaded the girls. By the time I got my brand new muck boots on, the deed was done. I was pleased with the much less stressful trailer loading, with the exception that youngest son now had a much perverted view of cow handling. He clearly thought he was a natural or it was far easier than my complaining of the past week had indicated. Neither were opinions I wanted him to consider as valid possibilities. They hadn’t even broken a sweat. Youngest son took off for his soldiering job and Neil, Mother, and I headed for Sexing International, happy thoughts on the bright, not-raining morning.
Nestor was waiting for us when we got there, proudly showing us the stats of our bull donors. It was then we thought to inquire as to the odds this one time inseminating effort would take.
“Thirty to forty percent”, Nestor said in his nice Spanish accent.
Brother Neil and I were pretty much speechless. Really. That means about one out of three cows is going to get pregnant. I don’t know at what point I had felt so certain that technical prowess had improved, if not supplanted, mother nature. Errant bulls were looking better and better no matter promiscuous they tend to be. “We will make sure they have very good nutrition and not too much jostling as they ride back home in the trailer. Let them stay the night. That will give them the best chance” Nestor suggests with enthusiasm. Nestor inspires confidence and seems to consider every cow ranching/cowpoking activity as commonplace, everyday, and part of standard personal aptitude with anyone involved in such activities.
He has no idea about my trailer-backing-up-sucking abilities.
Uh.. hmm, well. Neil looks at me and I look at him. “You can come get them, Janet. They’d load ‘em. All you have to do is just back up to the gate and let them out,”Neil whispers. My mind is weighing whether or not I should give into my mounting anxiety or distract myself by honing in on Neil’s disengenious just-back-the-trailer comment.
I am nothing, if not tenacious and give me a good challenge and I am your cowgirl. I started praying for successful straw implantation and asking God if He was in the mood for dispensation of one-day trailer backing up spritiual gift. (You can ask things like this when you know how much God loves you. He can always say no.) Neil is about to start in with the warning of me about driving too fast, or jostling the girls, or any number of things he is going to start OCDing about and pretty much he stops when I turn and look directly at him.
“I can give you some heat patches.” Nestor says, trying to inject a positive note in the speckled, freckled faced siblings staring at him. I am certain I was staring at him slack jawed and open mouthed in confusion. Neil wasn’t listening. I am pretty sure he was still ordering and reordering my cow pick up instructions, hoping he’s going to find a way to improve our odds. Nestor rifles through some papers and produces giant, I mean giant scratch off stickers. “In nineteen days, put these patches on their backs right above their tails. If they cycle back into heat and the AI didn’t work, the others will scratch off the silver when they try to mount them. Bring them back twelve hours after their heat patches have scratched off and we will AI them again.” Nestor delivers this information in all seriousness. Neil has quit thinking about my drive home.
“Just put them on their backs above their tails. They will mount them if they cycle back into heat.” These two statements coming out of Nestor’s mouth sound simple and straightforward. Nestor is still suffering under that delusion I mentioned above. The one where most people who come into Sexing International know what they are doing. The last time I tried to get cows into a pen, I lost a shoe, permanently discolored my favorite pair of sweat pants with a fine mixture of rain water, dirt and poo mixture and jumped, dodged and ran around the corral so much I almost peed my pants. (Okay, almost may be a little bit generous on my part). I am counting the days to when patch application has to occur and then I consider the whole tell-tale process for successful insemination that we are utilizing. Minus bull action, the cows mount each other.
Not saying I hadn’t noticed that this happened. I had. I put it down to some random event in nature that just happened to occur in our front pasture. I had no idea it was a diagnostic event. Given mother natures’ penchant to refine systems, I would have thought that something like this would have been evolved out a long time ago. But noooo, we are going to apply scratch off stickers to the black hides of our girls to see if one tries to mount another. I become good with this until I wonder if we are the only customers they have handed these things to.
When the day dawns on the morning for pickup, it’s me and Mother in oldest son’s F450, trailer in tow. We pull into Sexing Technologies and not a soul is around. Yeah, my God is good, ‘cause if you are going to try out a new spiritual gift, it’s really handy not to have any gawkers or onlookers around that might be distracting. I pull pretty far down the drive way, lined up with the loading gate and remember to jump out and open the trailer. Swinging the gates wide I look around to make sure no one is there to witness my swagger. This cowgirl’s gonna to do it today. Slowly, looking through the mirror the right way, I keep that trailer straight, and just like a pro, I back it up. The handsome young cowboy from our first visit gives me a thumbs up and just like that our girls are in. Nestor comes around the corner and with a big smile on his face, he hands me something. “Just thought you might like to have these” and in his hand are two perfectly pink gimme hats, with“Sexing Technologies” written in strong, black stiching. Sweet.
On the way home, I think good thoughts and turn corners slowly. I am glad I asked God for a whole day of superb trailer backing up ability, because don’t you know I backed that baby right up to the pasture fence and as I opened up the trailer gates the rest of the herd came up to see the newly bred girls. Nose to butt, sniffing, looking and tails swishing they made a few poo deposits and headed towards the back, like sorority girls ready to talk about last night.
“Now that was different,” #255 told alpha girl #12. “I am not sure what happened, but I feel different today.” “Moo,” #12 answered back in her low timber. Even I can recognize her special cow tone. Off they all went, three of those girls with a 30% chance that the mystery of life had happened again, however technically aided.