We are in the midst of the second half of spring cattle work. AIing cows at our house, sorting pairs and shipping or trailing to summer pasture at my parent’s place. Following a sorting mix-up, my dad mentioned one of the cows involved was, “A little four-over-eighteen ish.”
I’m sure we all have those cows, when you say their number, no additional explanation is needed.
Four-over-eighteen is one of those cows at my parent’s place.
Born in 2004, hence the “4” above the 18, my first notable encounter occurred when I was trailing yearling heifers alone in the spring of 2015. One, you can probably guess who, kept running out of the bunch. Being young and on a horse with a big motor, my solution was to take her on a circle every time she cut out, assuming she would tire and the fun would go out of it.
It didn’t. Upon arriving at our destination, the entire bunch of yearling heifers were hot and tired, except one, and my horse had worked up a good sweat. I am fairly certain four-over-eighteen was just getting loosened up at that point.
Of course, she bred right up, and we managed to get her calved and out of the calving lot without any memorable issues the next spring.
She matured into a large, rangey, Type-A, no-nonsense cow with a tendency to raise big calves, heavy on steers. She wasn’t trashy, but she was fast and had a bubble. Not a hugger.
The part we all still laugh about regarding four-over-eighteen is that she was a true educator of all things regarding working cattle in a corral. You had, on average, two chances to sort her out. If you unnecessarily cut her off, spun her around when it didn’t need to happen, or got after her too much, her tail would ring and her head would go up a notch, until she just ran you out of the pen. Then she would just go on out the gate, with all the pomp of a cow who had to take it into her owns hands to get the job done right. I think every member of our family was grateful for the occasional bale feeder in the corral when she was young.
By the time she was about five, we all knew to give her some space, not to treat her like a common cake muncher, and everything would go fine. And it did. She was never a problem to sort, trail, load, or run down the chute. Unless, of course, you made an error that negatively impacted her day.
When she was somewhere around 11 or 12, my dad was selling his old cows, and I bought them. Well, I bought all of them except one. As I explained, my husband and I’s two-generation-old corral, 80-acre calving pasture – I wonder if she ever calved within 80-acres of another cow after her first calf, desire to tag calves when they were born, and general management practices that require a cow go through a corral more than twice a year would never fit four-over-eighteen’s lifestyle.
So, while four-over-eighteen is long gone, her memory lives on. Particularly in the spring of the year.
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