So - we wanted to buy a beef cow... nothing fancy, just a nice, older cow that could give us a calf a year for the remainder of her breeding life. We wanted a gentle cow - one who was used to people, maybe not halter-broke, but definitely not some ole' range cow who would as soon stomp you into the ground as to look at you!
Pretty simple request - have a calf at her side and/or be in calf. I decided to put an ad on craigslist, stating our wants and desire as above. Older cow, not wild, with calf or with a calf at her side (both would be pure awesome!).
I get an email - guy has just what I am looking for. He has several pairs available, all with calves at their sides, and they have been in with a bull so probably bred. Great!
He has two different breeds, Shorthorns and Angus. Well now, I am not much into horns - get plenty of that with our goats! Definitely interested in the Angus - are they gentle? Well, yes Ma'am, our kids can walk right up to the calves in the field and pet them! No problem!
Then he informs me that of the two Angus he has, one of them is registered. Now, I am a sucker for pure-bred, registered animals... anyone who knows me knows this. My eyes light up at the mention of papers and I get all twitchy thinking about pedigrees. Guy says "If I can pick which one of the Angus are registered - I will give her to you!"
Shoulda backed right on outa that one right away! I figured there was a catch, maybe I misunderstood him, for sure he was just joking.
Of course someone was scheduled to come buy all the cows the next day (another flag I stupidly ignored), so we went on down to see these cows. I saw one Angus, several Shorthorns, one polled Angus cross (very pretty cow), and several big white beasts of cows I believe were Charolais. And a beautiful Angus bull in with them.
I thought maybe they were not all in the same pen - maybe the other Angus was out in the field. By the time the Guy arrived, I still hadn't found the other Angus. I am sure he was worried I would make him keep his word and he hastily pointed out which cow was the registered Angus - no way, says I! I mean, I am not a cow expert, but I have been around cows all of my life, and being kind of a pure-bred fanatic, I did know a little bit about cattle breeds - at least enough to identify the main ones and know what they are supposed to look like.
No way was that cow a registered Angus! She was bi-colored! Angus are either solid black or solid red, definitely NOT with white! "Well," says the Guy, "that is why he doesn't deal with registration anymore. Because in the history of the Angus breed, there ARE colored cattle, but the Angus Association will deny that."
So she is not registered? Well, no, but she is out of registered parents, and the bull, who is the sire of her heifer calf, is also registered. He has the papers to prove it... at home, in storage. But he can get them to me. And if he can't find them, he will refund some of our money.
He seemed like a nice, sincere Guy. I didn't feel like I was being taken for a ride. He even brought his kids! Of course, right then, right when I should have started wrangling him on price (I mean, I wanted the colored cow - she had a heifer calf, the other Angus had a bull calf - I wanted the heifer, not a bull) someone small had to use the restroom - like now! So when he said he would refund the price if he couldn't produce the papers, I wrote him a check, wrote out a quick bill of sale (taking him at his word and not taking the time too footnote the promised refund - happens when a kid is yelling in your ear that she is about to have a major type accident if we didn't get her to a restroom pronto!), and made the plan to come pick up the cow and calf in the morning.
I did have second thoughts - honest! I emailed him my doubts about the cow being bred-back - the calf was only a month or so old. He said she should be bred within the next 3 weeks. So I asked him if we could leave the cow with the bull until she got bred. Unfortunately, that was not an option because the reason he had to sell the cows was that he was losing his rented pasture. But, he would still have his bull (moving him to a smaller pasture) and many of his friends had bulls I could use anytime!
I even mentioned again my amazement at the cows color and he emailed a written history of the Angus where it mentioned that in the late 1800's a prominent Angus breeder had crossed the cows with Shorthorns. I even consulted other people in a cow group and several confirmed that occasionally Angus with white would pop up.
So we down we go again to pick them up. Next clue that I blindly ignored while listening to his story of his kids riding the cows, was that these cows did not seem particularly human friendly. But I was also distracted from that thought when the heifer calf escaped the pen and went dashing out into the field with someone else's herd of cows.
Now, to understand our feelings about this, you would have to know what happened the last time we bought some cows - the 3 little beef calves we already have. One of them gave my husband quite a chase, round, and round, and round the pasture, for over an hour before he was finally able to grab her by the back leg and get her wrestled into the horse trailer. I promised him I would never ask him to do that again - so this time, when the little heifer got out and ran off, I really thought he would just turn around, load up and head for home.
Nope, not my man! Out he went with the Guy and the Guy's cousin to get the calf back. Now, the Guy had explained, and seemed very confident in, his experience with cattle. But after watching him and his cousin try to get that little calf back in the pen, with my husband trying to politely compensate for their actions, made me question the truthfulness of his claims.
It has been my experience that if you are calm, easy and slow moving, you can pretty much herd cattle where you want them to go - especially if it is in a direction they are inclined to be heading anyway - like back to their Mama!
45 minutes later she was finally back in the pen and they had her caught. They hog-tied her and put her in the front of the trailer to lure her Mom in - which would have worked, if they had not been in such a hurry and put too much pressure on an already stressed out Mama cow!
Needless to say, we were all at a point of frustration by the time the cow was in the trailer and the calf was let up.
I still think the cow is pretty :)