Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Siobhan's Super Anti-Self-Sucking Harness™ 2.0 and 2.1

Here's a post on the genuine, original Siobhan's Super Anti-Self-Sucking Harness  from March of this year.

The harness worked great for Siobhan, but as time went on the surcingle tended to slip around and end up hanging off to one side or even upside down under her belly.  We would regularly go out in the morning and find things hanging every which way.  Occasionally Siobhan would even rub the whole surcingle forward over her head, and we'd find it trailing behind her.  The surcingle was buckled in its tightest holes, so there was no easy solution to the Case of the Straying Surcingle.

Once again, it was horse tack to the rescue.  In early May I was visiting our daughter Katie in Houston, and we happened to drive past a tack store.  Katie helped me look through all the wonderful tack possibilities until we found just the right thing:  a leather crupper, designed to keep a horse's saddle from slipping forwards.  (I'll guarantee you, I was the poor clerk's Weird Client of the Month, buying a crupper for a self-sucking cow!) The crupper is pictured below, the black leather strap that goes around Siobhan's tail.  Not sure it was long enough to reach the surcingle, we also picked up a red trailer tie down with clips at both ends.  It's a good thing we did.    

Here is Siobhan's new, improved Anti-Self-Sucking Harness™ 2.0.

Here's a different angle to show how it all fits together.

My poor girl is so patient with all her "costume changes."  If they ever make a Barbie Cow, Siobhan should be the model!

You can see that the red tie down allows for movement so the harness is not restrictive, yet the clips were smooth and did not dig into Siobhan.

The crupper has a neoprene sleeve around it where it goes under her tail, and it rides high enough that it doesn't get manure on it.  All in all, I was delighted with Version 2.0.

At the same time, I decided to make extra sure that Macree wasn't pushing up her weaning ring and nursing on Siobhan.  I had purchased some antique weaning devices off E-Bay for fun, but I figured the old-timers knew a thing or two, why not learn from them?

So Macree got her own "Medieval torture device."
The chain looped under her halter to be sure it didn't fall off.  Once I was sure it would stay on, I was able to remove the orange weaning ring.  The reason I'm showing this device here is that I think it would make a great substitute for the spiky screws I put in Siobhan's halter.  I ended up removing those screws because she showed no inclination whatsoever to suck on Macree; I had only put them in originally because other cow mamas had warned me that self-sucking cows sometimes end up sucking on other cows or heifers.  Siobhan hasn't done it, but maybe this idea can help someone else whose cow does.

By the time Siobhan had been wearing her harness full-time for five months, the surcingle was showing a lot of wear and tear.  Several rings had pulled off and others were loose.  It was time to replace it.

I was delighted to find the exact same surcingle on State Line Tack for under $30 AND a 20% off coupon.  They even had a pony size available, and after measuring Siobhan and talking to a customer service rep, I decided to go with the pony size.

Here it is next to Romeo's shabby old one.
When I took the old one off, it was clear just how well-worn it was.  Considering that a surcingle is meant for periodic use for probably an hour at the most, I have no complaints with how this one held up to rain, shine and fence-line scratches 24 hours a day for five months!

Here's Siobhan in her new outfit.  It's a much better fit, and if it relaxes with time, there are still more holes I can tighten.

There's plenty of room for Siobhan to move in her
Super Anti-Self-Sucking Harness™ 2.1.

Several times since Siobhan freshened on May 26, we've found her with her old harness completely off or with the PVC pipe and tie down missing.  Each time her udder was as full everywhere as I expected it to be.  I really think that the harness has cured her of self-sucking, but I've kept it on her just to be sure.  I figured that the longer she's "helped" not to self-suck, the more likely she is to really be broken of that terrible habit.

When it's time to breed her, of course, it will have to come off.  It would be terribly dangerous for the bull to be mounting her with the possibility of hooking a leg somewhere in the harness.  (The thought makes me shudder!)  When it's time to dry her off, she'll have to wear the harness again, as the temptation to self-suck will be strong.  For now we just take things as they come, and the harness is a tool to help Siobhan "be all that she can be," a great little family cow.

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