It may be a softening that comes with age, with lots of time among animals reading their thoughts as they try to read mine, my body language not near as brusque as when I was younger, eager to get the job done. Whether palpating cows or processing calves, I’ve always dreaded the rattle and bang of the squeeze chute as the animal strains against the procedure, one after the other like an assembly line until the lead-up is empty.

As a crew, we work well together, find our rhythmic pace as vaccinations, electronic ID tags and dewormers are applied. Having to use an old squeeze chute for half of our Wagyu X calves this year, it was easy to compare it to our relatively new hydraulic squeeze, the latter designed to be much easier on both man and beast.

The animal’s approach to the old chute is usually hard and fast, hitting the head gate abruptly, banging shoulders and brisket before squeezed manually, hooves often thrashing. Though our hydraulic Silencer was considerably more expensive, cattle enter it more quietly before their heads are caught, shoulders against the padded headgate, and they seem comforted, more apt to stand docilely. All these years, it has been the old chutes, the rattle and bang and all that they imply that I have dreaded most—the Silencer is well-named.

We finished processing our Wagyu X calves yesterday, the first load ready to ship on the 10th. The horses seem to enjoy watching us work, waiting, while we are waiting to give cows and calves time to find one another and relax before turning them out, to head home.


Some born late, but
no leppy calves due
to lack of mothering,

I want to throw
my chest out as if
I was the Wagyu sire

as they wait for shots,
a second-round of vaccinations
and EID tags destined

for more feed, for high-dollar
plates all around the world
pending its politics.


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