WINTER WORK

by Joan Holmes

I have to say I was very pleased with my little blue dog tonight!

In southern Alberta, February evenings are pretty cold. This night it was about twenty degrees below zero, centigrade–that’s about zero farenheit. Just before five p.m., we happened to look out our kitchen window, which looks directly east across our hay fields towards our neighbors Craig and Lori’s place. We noticed their cows all heading with great purpose towards the north boundary, and toward the road that runs along our north side. Larry went out to the road and from there could see that some cows were out.

He came in and phoned them, but there wasn’t any answer, so we
decided we’d better drive down there and see what was what. Turned out it wasn’t the cows that were out, it was last year’s calves that Craig and Lori are backgrounding. About fifty yearling calves had gotten out of the corrals and were trying to get in with the cows.

It was getting on towards dark, so we phoned our neighbor to the south, Doug, to let him know. Doug said he’d be right up and would we go and start the calves back down the road and he’d go to the corner to turn them south towards home, and would we bring a dog? Did I have to be asked twice—I think not!

Larry and Kya and I jumped in the van and headed down the road. When we got to the calves, Kya and I got out a little ways from the herd. I sent her out in front of me and she went right to work, gathered them up and started them east down the road.

There is a section of canola stubble next to this road and there isn’t any fencing for part of it. I was concerned that they might get out into 640 acres of stubble field, but Kya kept them moving, wearing back and forth behind them. I was jogging quite a ways behind them, with Larry was driving behind me, so when they turned the corner and started south Doug said to jump in his truck and we’d follow behind.

Kya didn’t like it when she couldn’t check in with me, so I ended up jumping in the back of Doug’s truck and leaning over the cab. Once she knew I was still there she settled right in, and kept them moving even when they wanted to go to the cows, which were following us on the other side of the fence, all eighty-five of them.

It was dark by the time we got to the corrals, but once they got almost to their driveway into the corrals, they knew where they were, so they turned in. When they made the turn, I jumped out of Doug’s truck and he tore up the road and turned in the south drive, got in ahead of the herd and opened up a corral for them. Kya just kept them moving and put them right into the corral. All told we moved them about two miles, so Kya really earned her dinner tonight!

I wasn’t really planning on jogging at twenty below–but it was way cool fun!

submitted november 2006