Sex Is Such A Botheration



After food, sex is the most important factor in keeping life going but it causes almost as much sorrow and pain as it does joy and pleasure. I have often joked about how much easier it would be if we could mail order babies like we do baby chicks and I am not entirely sure that won’t come to pass some day.  In the meantime, in the world of animal agriculture, we are very much headed that way and in no sector more so than small scale husbandry.

Sex really is a pain for small and mid-sized farms— for all farms actually. Bulls and rams and billy goats can be downright dangerous and hardly worth the risk and effort for only a few ewes or cows. Part of the time they have to be segregated from the females unless you don’t care when the calves, lambs or pigs come. Artificial insemination (AI) has therefore become the standard practice even with many larger farms. Operations that keep male farm animals for AI will most likely become even more lucrative in the future as a side effect of the new interest in small scale husbandry. AI is a botheration too and not as sure as physical mating, since you have to catch the females in heat at just the right time, a skill that takes time to acquire. But the advantages are many. You not only don’t have to worry about getting gored by a bull, but you can use semen from the top bulls in the nation and so improve your herd quicker.

When I kept a couple of cows, I used AI all the time, but watching when the cows came into heat and then getting the inseminator right away was always a botheration. The answer was to learn how to do AI myself but I was  too lazy for just two cows. With my sheep, for years I took advantage of a very kind-hearted neighbor who raised sheep commercially and rented rams to me. He wasn’t really set up to do that, so eventually I bought rams from him and had exciting adventures dodging their attacks. I think that the world of small-scale husbandry that I keep imagining is coming will foster rather profitable farm operations that specialize in renting bulls and rams for small livestock operations. There are already farms raising calves and pigs to sell to very small operations. This is the intriguing part of the new farming development. It is not meant to be a way to get rich but opportunities arise that we can’t see clearly now and they generate more profit than expected. Think of the horse farmer who has been told that horses are obsolete but who in recent years found that draft horse breeders will sometimes  pay him more for a colt than he makes all year from his crops.

We first noticed the botheration that sex brings with it from the rooster who ruled over our little flock of hens. Some egg producers seem to believe that hens are happier and lay more eggs if there is a rooster around but we found the opposite to be true. This particular rooster was so oversexed that I don’t know when he found time to eat. Yes, on occasion, a hen would squat to make it easier for him, but most of the time he hassled them to such distraction that they seemed nervous and rattled all the time. We got rid of him, mostly because he was starting to attack us. A noticeable change came over the hens. They were more restful, sang more, laid just as many eggs if not more, and in general seemed a lot tamer. So now we buy all female chicks. Incidentally, the owner of the hatchery where we deal says business is booming, another example of how the new interest in “non-profit” small scale farming is good for the economy. There is also a lively trade in small backyard chicken coops and in selling straw for bedding and grain for feed at very high prices compared to what commercial farmers can afford to pay. Nothing too good for backyard chickens— more examples of how seemingly non-profit hobby farming can generate quite a bit of profit. In the same way, small livestock producers who want to raise only a couple of animals go to commercial farm auctions to buy calves and pigs. Or as our son is doing now, buy young stock from farms that specialize in supplying small scale beef and pork producers. There is a thriving business now between these two kinds of farming and local butcher shops that process the meat— all going on outside the realm of industrial, factory husbandry.

I can’t resist adding to this process of sexless agriculture that as an old man, I sort of appreciate the freedom from sexual botheration that has occurred in my own body. When you no longer have much sex drive it’s no big deal. If you don’t desire something much, you don’t miss it much. The mind is cleared of a whole lot of distraction and it can concentrate on other pleasures and intriguing, fruitful ideas. I doubt that Einstein was thinking about sex when he came up with the theory of relativity.


Well Gene, wish you were here to read this, but Einstein was famous for his sexual peccadilloes. While married to his first wife, he conducted an affair with his first cousin, whom he later married (and also cheated on). It doesn’t appear that his robust libido was any hindrance to his genius.

Speaking about getting older and the six drive waning, my grandfather had 15 children in total. The last one at 68 which were twins. The third to last and 4th to last hybmy calculations he was 64 and 62. Go figure, I didn’t think they had viagra back then so his sex drive didn’t seem to deminish much with age. It’s good my grandmother his 2nd wife was 23 years younger than he was. Women don’t have near the desire that men don which is too bad. Some guys get lucky but not that many. That’s why as a Christian I always wondered why God wanted mankind to be monogamous. Animals for the most part just ride whatever suits them. It’s great to be a male bull or a ram or a dog. When it comes to standing upright all your life men have to work to hard for sexual pleasure which animals don’t seem to have to do.

Yeah, farms and ranches have a a cat house beat in the sex department! A stock whip across the nose also works well for rowdy rams and stallions. In my experience, bulls are more likely to need an ax handle. There’s no question, though, that selecting for a good mind, training them young to the idea that the human is the boss and (at least in the case of rams and bulls) eating the rejects makes for a more peaceful herd. We get a bull from the rent-a-bull guy once year, so we make sure the kids walk wary during the six to eight weeks the bull is around. Our stallions are well-mannered and I’ve always been able to do the breeding by myself when necessary (didn’t have any choice back in the day when hubby spent six months of the year at the South Pole and we had 24 brood mares), which some of my horsey friends find amazing.

There is nothing like a smart stockdog (Kelpie or Border Collie), to keep the boys in line. Whenever I need to do something in a buck or ram pen, I take a good dog. One pop on the nose from a 40 lb dog puts respect right back into those bothersome males. Dogs are a lot more fun than semen tanks too. Lol

Gene I really enjoy your articles. They make me think. Thanks! On Facebook today I saw some pictures from a group (?) called Farmer, which started as a photo documentation of today’s farming women. Thought you might like to find out more about it, if you don’t already know about it. Stay safe and warm.

Re: Gene’s last paragraph, I can’t cite anyone as exalted as Einstein, so I’ll quote the late Florence King’s reaction to postmenopause: “I’ve had food, and I’ve had sex, and I’d rather eat.”

Indeed there is a market for renting bulls for about 6-8 weeks (to be sure the cows are all settled), but I hesitate because I’d rather keep a closed herd and not risk sharing diseases from other farms. Some folks buy a bull every year, then eat him after the season’s over, thus probably keeping their herd safe from disease, mostly. For rams, I have seen discussions but haven’t seen prices that make sense for the breeder, plus the biosecurity issue is an issue with sheep too.

My little cow herd is large enough that at least at the moment I am using a bull sprouted on my farm, but now I’m facing housing him away from the girls for a while. I am thinking about weaning my boy calves from this summer and putting them all together so he doesn’t develop a bad personality due to being in solitary confinement (I breed for nice boys, as well as good conformation). That’s something I do with my sheep – keep the boys together much of the year. And breed for nice boys, eating the bad attitudes.

I also eat my mean roosters. Sure makes the whole process easier to take, when they are jerks.

Having been reared around a ranch where we raised Hereford breeder bulls, I can tell you it’s both dangerous and enlightening at the same time. It’s too bad more young kids don’t have the chance to see “life” from start to finish (the birth of a calf). I got to be an “expert” in spotting cows who were, early on, having trouble birthing so I was always elected to horseback duty checking on the mama’s. I’ve been there for many a calf-pulling exercise. Growing up around a variety of animals is a life-shaping experience, and a good one.

It may be a botheration for small farmers, but nevertheless it’s pure entertainment

love it…very good ….

I learned AI from a neighbor who sold bull semen. I use to help him when not in school. There is nothing like breeding a cow just to get kicked or crapped on. That was back in the 70’s when it was just really starting big.

As far as freedom from sex, just have a heart condition. You don’t have to be your age to think the same thing…. For some reason I did not think like that in my 20’s and 30’s!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s