Abraham, our favorite steer (he is the only) has a distinct personality, and he’s pretty bull-headed even though (ahem) he is no longer a bull. When he did not show up for his evening hay, we wondered where he could be. He always beats Tilly to the barn at feeding time and his absence was noted. We finally spied him standing somewhat forlornly under the boxelder tree, one of his hangouts. What could be holding him up? On closer inspection, we could see he was on the wrong side of the fence that runs adjacent to the tree. Neither one of us wanted to wade through the snow drifts to inspect the fence line to see how he could have gotten into the neighbor’s pasture. After a long silence, I volunteered. Turns out, the fence was fine and it did not appear he had jumped over it. Feed Lot (his pet name) was stubbornly waiting by the fence hoping for a miracle that would make the fence disappear.
We walked about half a mile back to the road and up the lane to the neighbor’s horse pasture. The gate was undisturbed, but stock panels that were wired to a post had been forcibly bent until a large opening was evident. Only one critter around this place could have done that much damage. A couple days earlier the horses had pushed a panel down from the inside and escaped, but Feed Lot had to bend two panels inward against the post to make his way into the pasture–you guessed it–at feeding time!
We had two problems at hand. One was the herd of horses in the pasture where Feed Lot had broken through the fence. We didn’t dare release them but we had to get Feed Lot through the gate. I tossed a basket of hay in the far corner of the pasture to distract the horses while Michael worked on steering the mule-headed steer who refused to take any suggestions. When Michael tried coaxing him toward the gate Feed Lot ran the opposite direction. We wearied of the chase as the steer grew more belligerent and darkness was falling. We decided he was smart enough to break in, surely he could break out! If he broke through the fence again we would have to risk having runaway horses, but temporarily it would solve our problem with the steer.
Feed Lot’s mother, Panda lives adjacent to the pasture where he was trapped. Next day we attempted to round up the lost boy, thinking he would be hungry and ready to listen to reason. Instead he ignored us and stood in the middle of the pasture bellowing for his mom who responded to his cries of woe by hovering along her side of the fence. We cut an opening in another section of fence leading to our property in the hopes he would see an escape route and come with us. I gathered up a bushel basket of hay to coax him but he ignored me. He ran instead in the opposite direction to the fence-line separating him from his mother and paced back and forth trying to find an opening. What a mama’s boy!
How did this adorable creature become a 2,000 pound tyrant determined to have his way? After a considerable amount of time tromping through layers of snow drifts and ice to capture a steer who didn’t seem to believe we had his best interests at heart, we were exhausted. Then, when it seemed we had lost the battle, Feed Lot took off following the fence in an apparent effort to sort out how he had gotten into so much trouble. When he came nearer to the opening we cut in the fence, I coaxed him through with the basket of hay. He didn’t linger long to eat but headed to the barn at a dead run, positioning himself over his uneaten dinner from the night before. We repaired the fence and walked back to the house to collapse. We know he will try once again to barge through the fence into the neighbor’s horse pasture to mooch a little hay, now that he knows he can breech the stock panels so easily. And we will start all over again. Anybody want a pet steer?