font-family: 'Italianno', cursive;

Monday, July 5, 2010

Manicure Monday!

So today was back to work for all the ladies of the farm.

The day began with "Lady" getting her hooves trimmed...

Her hooves had gotten long, with her living on soft ground and not being ridden. It was slowing her down enough (along with the fact that she is getting OLD) that the other horses were giving her a hard time. So she packed up and moved to better accommodations and now lives amongst my grass fed beef herd. She pined away for her "buddies" across the road at first but then she settled in and enjoys her days being the "tallest" and the only (horse) in her new pasture.

The farrier came early. 7 a.m. and he was here and ready to work. I was still padding around in PJ's and watching the action out the living room window...

All the smaller steers lined up at the gate to watch Lady once she was taken out. It was SO funny. It was like having front row seats at "Avatar" or something. I swear you could have given those calves popcorn and Jujubes and charged them each $15.00 per ticket and not heard the first complaint!

Each time I would cross the living room and look out the window there they were...all lined up watching intently. It was so cute and I did the internal debate...

get out of pajamas, get dressed ( I mean the farrier was there after all...) and try to snag the shot? After the third time, scolding myself inwardly I did throw on clothes and sneak out the back door so as not to alert the steers, in my attempt to snare that awesomely cute pic.

Only by the time I snuck around the back of the house and got lined up...

the calves were at intermission apparently, leaving me only a good shot of "Lady" getting her back hooves done and aptly demonstrating why a farrier earns his money if anyone does.

Next it was time to travel back to the Dairy and watch a different farrier ply his trade on the moo cows.

I was struck by the fact that horses being plains animals, need hard rocky ground to gallop upon to keep their hooves trimmed naturally. Being in a soft grassy pasture 2000 miles from their natural habitat, necessitates intervention to trim what rocks and mountains and grassy plains would have done automatically. Cows on the other hand, are pasture animals. They thrive on soft lush ground and the lay down a lot - unlike horses who stand most of the time - even when sleeping.

The problem for the cows is because they are a dairy herd they have to go into a milking barn twice a day and barn floors are made of concrete for sanitary reasons. As a result, all that standing and waiting their turn, leads to their hooves getting longer from TOO much hard surface.

Ironic isn't it? It is better to work with habitats and nature rather than against it. It becomes up to us to prevent foot problems and intervene if a problem does occur.

Manicure Monday functions a LOT differently if you are a dairy cow than if you are a horse. A horse can be bribed to stand still with a bucket of grain. A cow just wants to come in and get the milked so she can go back out on the pasture to eat grass and lay down. Any disruption in that routine is viewed with suspicion and not welcome at all.

Because cows have a split hoof they need a highly trained kind of farrier to take care of them. He brings special equipment to make it as non traumatic for the cows (and safe for his hands) as possible.

First he sets up a chute that will lift the cow up on her right side for her "manicure".

He lays out all of his tools on the bed of his truck. He even sets up a fan to blow on the cows to keep them cool and not stressed as much as possible.

This cow is older and has done this before, so she was pretty calm about the whole procedure.

She seemed more affronted by me standing in front of her eyeballing her with my camera than anything...

Ups a daisy, goes "Daisy"!

She was very nonchalant about the whole thing and looked at me as if to say
"Are you getting all this?"

After a little filing and buffing she was all done and down she went....

ta da!

Piece of cake!

She even paused, turned and glanced back at the lift in curiosity before turning again and ambling her way out to the pasture on her newly coiffed hooves.

The next cow couldn't have been more different. For one, she is younger and more excitable and hadn't ever experienced the lift before. Because she is younger, her hooves were actually in good shape overall, only over the last few days she had started to walk very slowly and there was some swelling and tenderness in her front right foot indicating most likely an abscess from stepping on some sharp object.

She didn't enjoy the lift anymore than a baby enjoys the pediatricians office ...

I think her expression pretty much sums it up.

Sure enough she had an abscess but it was caught early. The farrier made a cool looking little "shoe" for her to cushion her hoof while it heals.

He mixes an acrylic just like they do at the nail salons and coats her hoof protectively and attaches the "shoe", then wraps the whole thing in a medicated wrap that will stay on for 4 days and then be removed.

The farrier stopping to go talk to her and let her see him to help calm and reassure her

Hang on Miss 217, you will be all done soon!

The acrylic attached shoe will fall off on its own after a week much the way acrylic nails loosen and fall off without upkeep. By then her hoof will be good to go.

Within an hour she was walking well and the only evidence of the mornings shenanigans was her bright red ankle wrap.

The farrier: This man was so skilled at his work and so knowledgeable and kind to the cows. It was really awesome to meet him and we will definitely be keeping him!

So that sums up manicure Monday. Anyone need some work done?


  1. That was very interesting and educational. I think my husband would fit in that lift so I'm bringing him over to get his toe nails cut by that nice guy. I'm not so nice when I try to help him.

  2. LOL Penelope!

    Love the pic you have in your comment!

    Very pretty.

  3. best post ever. funny shots of those poor cows hehe.