The horn. Like it or loathe it, you simply cannot ignore it.
In farming, the horn is the greatest plague of all.
A number of years ago, a Department of Agriculture head honcho came down from Mount Sinai and decreed to all, “Thou shalt not have horns on thy bovines. Or else thou will get into big big trouble if thou attempt to take horny bovines to a cattle mart.”
And so it came to pass that us farmers got involved in the business of disbudding or dehorning every antler that appeared.
And in fairness to the Department, I suppose they were right in calling for an end to the horn.
I mean if you are being chased down a field by a lively bullock, and he closing in on your backside, wouldn’t you much prefer that the bullock had no horn worth a damn? Of course you would.
Clearly, the removal of the horn is a safety issue, first and foremost. And far be it from me to make light of a safety issue.
Anyhow, there are a few methods that can be employed when faced with the task of dehorning an animal. The right job would be to tackle the horn when that animal is small. That way ’tis less of a chore.
The method I regularly use involves me shutting my eyes to the horn, this method is all about hoping that they magically disappear. Sadly for me, this method has yet to prove successful.
Big or small, dehorning an animal is a hard job, you see, and with one thing and another, the horn is something I put on the long finger.
Anyway, the time came last Saturday when I could avoid it no longer. The horns really had to go.
So my first move was to call to the vets and purchase a bottle of that Adrenacaine stuff.
Injecting Adrenacaine into the side of the horn numbs the thing and gives an animal relief for hours.
And I’m all for pain relief these days, ever since I met Biddy from Glenroe.
You might recall me mentioning that I met her outside the Everyman Theatre in Cork at the start of the year.
She had been there performing, and I met up with her after to chat about farming life.
She told me that she was ever so cross at what she saw as the cruelty that prevails in farming today.
Since meeting her, and to be honest, being slightly in dread of her, I have done my level best to ensure that all my animals live the life of Reilly, and suffer as little as possible.
So I purchased my Adrenacaine from the vets, and in fairness to the stuff, the little creatures seem to go through the procedure of dehorning with less discomfort than they used to long ago.
I use a gas dehorner to remove any buds I come across. But they were the well seasoned buds last Saturday. Yes, whatever my cheap calves lack in the beef stakes, they certainly make up for when it comes to growing horns.
They’re better than reindeers at growing them.
I have one Jersey bull calf that I’m half thinking of using over the Christmas for any carol singing that might be required. He’s Rudolf in the making.
My gas dehorner simply withered in my hand when it caught sight of the horns on the hoor.
Department or no Department, I was forced to set the devil free, his crowning glory intact.
He simply had more horn than I could ever handle.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved