Kaua‘i Remembered for Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Na mo‘olelo a Hobey Goodale – special to the garden island

Coming back to the main ranch from Kipu was a welcome move. All of our pastures for the breeding herd fed right into the corrals at the headquarters. It had a round corral with no sharp corners and a thick soft sand bottom. The spectators could come right up to the fence and have a good view of what was going on once we got the cattle in the corral.

As the years went by the crowds got larger and larger. First were the college and high school wannabes who thought wrestling the calves would build their muscles for football. We had one fellow grab the tail off a calf once and half the tail was skinned before we knew it. Others were paniolo, some with their own lio (horse) and others who would use ours.

My grandfather rode “na lio” (horses) until he was 75 years old and his lio shied when it saw a dead “manu” (bird) on the ground and threw him off. He would tear into a novice who didn’t do what he thought should have been done. If he was around none of the young kids wanted to ride with us. 

Once the pipi (cows) were separated out of the corral, all the ropers had to do was drop a noose over the head of a calf and bring it out of the crowd. The heeler had one chance at the calf before the ground crew would have the calf on the ground.

The calves were a little smaller then the Kipu Kai calves because of our seasonal breeding program where we put the bulls in with the pipi on the first of June every year. The main reason for this was the calves didn’t come until April, so there was more sunlight where the grass grew better and the pipi had more milk for their calves.

After the branding was over and the calves back with their mothers, we would let the pipi out and guide them to the right pasture while the ground crew would go about broiling the mountain oysters so that they were done when we got back.

Now it was time to “pa‘ina” (party)! We had beer, soda and a wide variety of pupu (appetizers) and some of the visiting paniolo would have their guitars and there would be a lot of paniolo songs. By the time Nancy and I were married on June 25, 1948 this routine was pretty well set.                                   

In 1950 or 1951 there was a major change. Every time we shipped pipi to Hawai‘i Meat Company in Honolulu by barge for slaughter, we would be docked severely because of the horns on our pipi bruising the meat when they were being moved to the slaughter house.

My grandfather ordered the dehorners and we had to cut the young buds of horns off the heads of the calves as they were being branded. It sure put a damper on the fun of branding. This operation lasted two years and we found a cleaner and less traumatic way to do the job.

One day I read an article in the Western Livestock Journal, I showed this article to my grandfather and ask him if we could try it. This was a caustic paste which could be applied to the little buttons and they would not grow into horns. Now we had to go out into the pastures and catch the calves, and with a pair of scissors cut the hair around the buttons and apply the caustic.

The only bad thing about this was that if we had a very young calf he would just lie there and let us apply the caustic. But before the caustic would dry, the calf would nurse and bump the pipi udder and some of the paste would come off on the pipi and she would get burned and then, not let the calf nurse. This was not a big problem and we had it solved by the next calving season.

Having to go out and rope the calves made good ropers of the paniolo and their lio. I had a young colt that I was training and he got so that he would position himself by the animal just within roping distance and never go past it. This was frustrating at times when all you wanted was to turn the pipi back into the herd.  This roping at a young age defeated the purpose of trying to tame the calves.

 After three years of roping calves to apply the caustic paste, we were well into our seasonal breeding program so that by the end of May most of the calves had been born. We had started crowding the breeding herd into three pastures near a set of corrals where we could work on the calf’s foot once we got them and their mothers.

Each morning we would drive mom and baby into the corral until about lunch time, earlier if there were no more calves to work on, we would separate the pipi from their calves and we would turn them into the pasture they would be in when we were through with the calves. We would then go at “dehorning” and when we were done we would go back to the corral and let the pipi sort out their calves.

At the start of the calving season we would have to do this twice a week.

  In 1955 I also found an article that told about using a rubber band for docking the lamb’s tails in Australia where flies were a great problem with surgical docking. New Zealand was using the rubber bands to castrate the male lambs. I sent for the equipment and we started to use it on the newborn calves and it worked like a charm, but no more mountain oyster’s only tamer calves.

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