So, last time we left off in this bovine saga, I was mentally dressing Ruby out into various cutlets. She has come around quite a bit since then. I can get within five feet of her and she moves away quietly instead panicking. No aggressive behaviors for at least two months. She doesn't trust other people but I am tolerated fairly well. The hoof trimmer was out yesterday. When he passed by the bullpen, she panicked and ran to the other side. I thought about it quite a bit and determined that she wasn't ready so I wouldn't push her. The trimmer will be back this summer. In the meantime, for obvious reasons, I need to be able to bring this cow into our rather simple gate chute for regular vaccines and de-worming. I had not run her into the chute yet. The report from the vet school when she went to be de-horned, was that she was so nuts that she tried to climb out of everything and they had to dart her with a tranquilizer gun! She wasn't yet due for anything (thanks to me providing the de-worming drench and vaccines to the vet school for her while she was under) but this was a major test. I decided that if I couldn't handle her in our facilities, she had to go. My dear husband politely inquired about eating her just this past week.
My plan was simple:
Step 1: Bring her into the holding pen and run her into the chute with hubby standing by to help me secure it.
Step 2: Give her some feed in a bucket and leave her alone to settle down in there (hoping she doesn't climb out or tear it to pieces trying to escape).
Step 3: If she and the chute are still intact after about 20 or 30 minutes, try to see if I could get a halter on her to drag for a week with the vain hope of further gentling.
Step 4: Release the beast.
So, Step 1 and 2 went better than expected. One red cow in one homemade chute. She was not happy, but she was inside of it as opposed to tap dancing on my head or running down the road with her tail held high after tearing down two fences. So far, so good. When I came back after the requisite time, she was still struggling against the chute but when I carefully tried to slip the halter on her head, she gave me a curious look and thrust her nose right in! Surprised me so much that there was a momentary exchange of bewildered looks before I came to my senses and buckled the halter. She was still fretting about the chute so I started talking to her and slowly began to stroke her back. It was the first time I've ever touched her red coat. After about five minutes of gently petting her on both sides, she quieted down. I let her smell my hands (which smelled like her now) and then let her out of the chute. She had earned her ticket into the regular herd. I turned her out with the 15 month old babies (Bonny, Cloe, Daisy and Arnold). I watched the little scuffles as rank was determined. At the end of it, she was being quietly worshiped by all the babies. She looks quite content to be with them. All are on equal ground because they all have halters with trailing leads. I won't try to touch Ruby's until she's taught herself for about a week by stepping on it. I don't know if the halter-breaking refresher will work, but she has earned a spot in the herd nonetheless.