If you saw my post from a couple days ago, you know that I put together a wagon for my own personal use on the farm. Of course, I have gotten by for years without a wagon, but the child in me kept finding valid reasons why I should buy a wagon and since those reasons were so convincing, I did just that. Rather than carry all my buckets, milker, hose, and other items to the milking parlor, I can now put them all in my wagon and joyfully pull them up and down the hill.
Feeling quite pleased with myself, I unloaded the wagon from it maiden voyage and set up the parlor for milking. Mike was home early, as we were having guests for supper, and proceeded to help me move things along by bringing Midnight in to be milked.
Or, shall I say, he attempted to bring Midnight in for milking.
Midnight came around the corner just as she always does, intent on reaching her goal of treats in the stanchion when all of a sudden she wheeled around and made a mad, frantic, fearful dash back from whence she came!
"What the heck? What's up with Midnight?", I questioned Mike.
He thought that Lady, the big white dog must have scared her because he said he saw Lady jump up about the same time that Midnight became frightened.
We struggled for quite a while trying to get Midnight to come in but things just got progressively worse. She tried to force herself through the latched gates. She contemplated jumping over them. She ran around with her ears indicating she was greatly distressed. (Those of you with cattle know what I mean.) Of course, all of this would happen on an evening when I needed to have supper on the table at a particular time.
I remembered how cows do not like change, don't adapt well to new surroundings, and recalled the articles I had read by Temple Grandin.
"The single most important factor determining whether a new thing is more interesting than scary is whether the animal has control over whether to approach the object. Animals are terrified by forced novelty. They don't want new things shoved into their faces and people don't either. but if you give animals and people a new thing and let them voluntarily decide how to explore it, they will." ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN p. 147 (For more information see this previous post.)
I suddenly decided that the little, brown wagon I was so proud of might just possible resemble a big, ugly monster to Midnight. I quickly hid the "monster" out of site around the corner.
Finally, we forced Midnight into a smaller area and managed to get the gate shut. She hesitantly headed towards the stanchion but at the last minute bolted through un unsecure, human size gate that leads into a yard around the chicken pen. (The chickens free range but the yard is to keep the calves out of the chicken's house.) Now we have a huge Angus/Holstein cow who has gone wild running around in the chicken yard!
By this time Mike and I have totally lost our cool, making things even worse. (The best thing to do when you have a cow gone crazy, is to not go crazy yourself!) Midnight jumped the electric netting fence around the chicken house and was now in the pasture with the last year's weaned calves. The calves started going crazy feeding off of Midnight's energy and antics. We got her separated from the calves and back into the original holding pen where once again we had to force her (with her having intent to kill at this point) back to the stanchion.
Into the smaller area with the closed gate behind her, she finally fearfully walked past where the big, scary monster (little, brown wagon) had been sitting and made her way into the stanchion. Once she was in the stanchion, she was fine.
When she was realeased from the stanchion, she ran quickly past the gate where the little, brown wagon had once set.
Fast forward to this morning. I fill up my little, brown wagon and joyfully begin pulling it down the hill. Midnight is standing at the gate waiting to be let into the holding area as she is ALWAYS the first to be milked now that Edy is not around. She hears the wheels turning on the little, brown wagon. She eyes the little, brown wagon making it's way down the hill. Her ears start doing that "crazy cow thing" again. Her eyes are wide. She paces but doesn't leave the gate.
This time, I decide to move the little, brown wagon before trying to get Midnight in. I determine to remain calm no matter what. I feed the goats and the calves and all is well. Then, I let Midnight in the holding area. All she has to do is walk through the holding area and past the gate where the little, brown wagon sat yeterday but no longer sits today. I talk calmly to her and explain that "the big bad monster" is gone. She is having none of it.
Again, she refuses to go in to be milked but this time Mike and I remain calm and I keep telling Mike I will be there as long as it takes because I don't want her to be frightened. We went round and round a few times (nothing like last night) and she finally went into the stanchion. We shall see what the evening milking brings.
Whoever knew that a little, brown wagon could cause so much trouble?