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Thursday, April 11, 2013

This one's an Ace.

Another ritual of spring on the farm is breeding the cows. Dennis the drover could be heard before he was seen with his rattling, banging trailer and as he rounded the bend the cows were drawn out of the barn. They knew that noise. But would someone be coming or going?

It was just past 7am on a crisp Saturday morning and I hadn’t done the farm thing in so long, I was dressed all wrong for the occasion. Waiting at the end of the driveway for our ride, I realized a lumberjack coat, thin jeans and spring boots just weren’t going to cut it. Oh, well. Once again, the ‘real’ farmwife at our destination would no doubt think me foolish.

He wasn’t expecting a second passenger, but Dennis graciously made room for me in the backseat of his truck. I was quite comfortable in my nest of winter coats and there was even a little stash of chocolate bars back there if I got hungry.

The drive to Ashton was scenic and as we wound our way down the back roads through Burritts Rapids toward Richmond I listened in on the men. Every ten minutes or so Dennis would ask if I was comfortable. I don’t think he’s used to having anyone but his wife and kids riding along on these trips.

After about 45 minutes we arrived at our destination on Glenashton Road: home of the Donovandale Simmentals. We will be back here in the fall to pick up our new Black Simmental bull calf. He was just born and isn’t ready to leave his mother yet.

This spring we are renting a Black Angus from the Donovans. His name is Black Ace, he is a year old and his mother was a Grand Champion at Victoriaville, named Donovandale Zania.

Trained for showing, you just have to scratch Ace’s belly with a show stick and he stands so you can fit him with a halter and lead. Unlike the usual rodeo act I get to watch as the men load animals onto the trailer, this time Ace gently stepped up onto the trailer and stood quietly as he was tied in the stall. He nibbled on some hay and after the door was closed he put his ringed nose up to the window to see his owner. I wonder what he was thinking. He probably thought he was going to another show, and was wondering why his humans weren’t coming with him.

Dennis took it easy on the curves of Dwyer Hill Road, and the sun nearly put me to sleep in my cozy backseat nest. No noise from the trailer at all. When we got home, the ‘girls’ were waiting in a sunny corner of the barnyard to see what the trailer would bring. Ace put his nose out the window and sniffed the air. He stepped down with a hop, then looked back at the Farmer and Dennis.

“Well go on, then,” the Farmer said, tapping Ace on the rump with a branch. The bull hesitated for a moment and then decided confidence was the way to go. He strutted into the barnyard and stopped when he saw the girls. He looked back at us. Then he smelled the fragrant silage in the feeder and got distracted. The girls could wait. He sniffed and snuffed and snorted, as it wasn’t the dry hay he was used to eating. The Farmer had already put a nice bale up in the shelter for the new bull (and that’s what the girls had been happily chowing down on all night).

Julie was the first to approach the new addition. All black herself, she probably thought “he’s just my type.” Startled, Ace put his head down as if to challenge her approach. Then he caught wind of her perfume and decided to be a gentleman. They danced around each other a bit, then he decided to continue on to meet the rest of the herd. When we left the yard, he was sniffing each animal one by one, making introductions.

Ace will be with us until late May, when his work here will be done. He is for sale, so if you know anyone who would be interested in a beautiful bull of prize-winning lineage, let me know and I will connect you with his owner.


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