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Record scratch, freeze frame

Erica Louder for Progressive Cattle Published on 15 December 2021

Imagine this: black rangy beef cow, eyes wide, bellering fit to be tied. Her head is stuck in a dairy lockup, and she’s panicked.

*Record scratch*

*Freeze frame*

Range cow: “Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got into this situation.”

I love that movie trope turned meme. If you are on TikTok, you’ve seen it reimagined a hundred different ways to endless hilarity. If you haven’t, or you are over 40, google “record scratch, freeze frame meme” or watch this 18-second clip, and you’ll get the idea. I’m more of a consumer than a creator on the TikTok scene, but I wish I would have been thinking while doing chores; I would have had viral video gold. Or at least, as the kids say, *skull emoji.*

Since you are still wondering how she got into that situation, I’ll give you the deets. My husband Craig and I started our cattle operation ten years ago. At the time, we worked in the dairy industry, so we started with a few dairy nurse cows that we’d raise dairy bull calves on. One year, we decided to purchase a couple of beef embryos and place them in our nurse cows. And voilá, our beef herd was born. Since then, we’ve eliminated the dairy from our herd and moved to a new place. The previous owner used it to raise dairy heifers, thus the lockups. All in all, it seemed fitting since that is how we got our start.

We’ve grown the herd organically because we keep a lot, even when we shouldn’t. That tendency to keep has resulted in a fall-calving herd that rivals our spring herd in size. Fall calves don’t work with our system, so we finally committed to selling our fall calvers. The buyer is a friend of Craig’s, and he told us he would sweeten the deal if Craig would get our fall calvers bred back and breed a group of his cows.

Craig agreed, and the friend hauled his cows over and dumped them in our corrals. It was like a marriage that the step kids had no say in – rough n’ ready range cows join our pasture-softened pets. No Brady Bunch here. I don’t know which group I feel sorrier for, the range cows that are seeing a feedbunk for the first time or our cows  that will experience a the rude awakening next spring.

And that’s how a cow that has lived its entire life on the desert of eastern Oregon and who may have not seen a fence in her life ended up stuck in a lockup in the middle of dairy country in southern Idaho. Here’s the thing though, it wasn’t locked – lift head and pull back.

Range cow: “Like I could have known that.”  end mark

PHOTO: It's not quite the freeze frame I'd hope for, but you get a good look at the lockups. Photo by Erica Louder.

Erica Louder is a freelance writer based in Idaho.

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