Tuesday, November 23, 2010

They were here just yesterday

It’s cold outside, damn cold outside. Not the kind of cold that makes outdoor activity a little uncomfortable, the kind of cold that makes your testicles seem to disappear for a few days. It is 10 p.m. and right now my thermometer says it is 5. The low is supposed to be down to -5 overnight. Tomorrows high is going to be a balmy 14. What is really amazing is it almost seems warmer than last night. Last night only got down to 12 but the wind was blowing 20 to 40 m.p.h and it was snowing.We have somewhere between an inch and 20 inches of snow depending where the wind deposited it. I really feel for the cows on nights like the one they went through last night.

Yesterday I fed a bit of hay to both groups of cows because of the snow and also because they need just a bit of a nutritional boost in this cold weather. I spent the rest of yesterday making sure everything that would be needed today had a good chance of working. Some diesel additive in both the Dodge and the loader tractor and making sure the block heater was working in them. It makes for tough days when it is this cold and if machinery does not run it really can be a pain.

Luckily both groups of cows have some really nice natural protection. My grandfather was a tree, bird and wildlife lover and on days like these I am very thankful for that. The spring calvers are still on the home place with their calves. They would be weaned and on cornstalks by now but the corn field is about half harvested and the combine is shutdown for the time being because of moisture content of the corn. I probably would not have weaned in this weather anyway. Very few of the cows are even still “wet” and nursing their calves but weaning alone is enough stress on the calves without having to deal with it during blizzards and extreme cold. This group of cows and calves has a nice grove of trees next to a natural windbreak to the north. This kept them from getting too pummeled last night but they were glad to see the hay this morning. The trees also kept the ground below them almost devoid of snow which gave them a nice place to bed down. The fall calvers are on some cornstalks and some dry range ground. They also have a great forest of both planted and natural trees to hide out in.

The other issue to deal with is water for the cows. Luckily there is a lot of “live” water on this place and has enough flow in many places to stay open and ice free. I have a few cows corralled up that get well water and today that ran fine but as cold as it is tonight may not be open tomorrow. If I have to I will just let these cows out with the spring calvers. The cold is bearable it just makes everything seem to take longer to complete. When it is this cold just doing the basic chores of feeding is about all I accomplish at least as far as outdoor activities in a day.

These cold days can wear on my nerves for many reasons but I can often find something to calm me down and maybe even make me smile. The day starts off bad enough for me because I have to wear coveralls. I hate coveralls for a few reasons. They are confining and just getting into the top of them is a struggle for me because I have had so many shoulder issues in my life. That twisting your arm back and getting it into a stiff sleeve can make me remember ever separation I have endured over the years. I go out to the Dodge and it started great but the heater in it is fair at best. About the time I am going to cuss this I see the sprinkler nozzles in the ashtray left over from summer and smile knowing no irrigation will happen today. I get in the John Deere and it started a bit hard this morning because at first I was giving it wasp and yellow jacket spray into the air intake instead of starting fluid. That made me kind of laugh and also realize there was no way I was going to get stung by a wasp today. Dakota was home today because of the school closure so she helped me by driving while I did the feeding. It does not seem like much but it is much better than having to jump off a moving pickup to reach in and turn the steering wheel as some obstacle approaches several times in the course of feeding a big bale as the pickup slogs along in 4 wheel drive low.

The cold weather allowed me to spend the day with her as we went to Connell and Pasco today for banking and other errands. When we fed this afternoon she did run over a downed tree and about bucked me off the back as the front tire went over the log. The good thing was if I had slipped and fell I would not have hurt my nuts. They were hiding somewhere close to the back of my tonsils today. In other good news the long range weather forecast says it is going to be 47 degrees on December 7th. I better keep that wasp spray in the tractor just in case.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the Canvasback duck aka Aythya valisineria.

Today’s picture is of one of the new fall calving pairs 5655o and her calf 0655w. You can see some of the trees that these cows use for shelter in inclement weather in the background.