Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter of discontent

Yes. Yes, Yes I am still alive and yes I am going to continue to blog, hopefully even on a regular basis. It was a little over a year ago that I started this venture. At the time I was thinking I would talk about part of each day and what life is like for me. I thought maybe a few freaks out there in cyber land might enjoy a post or two and it might be a good way to promote agriculture and maybe educate the general public and possibly shoot down a few misconceptions about the cattle business. Well the daily posting thing soon became very tough to complete. Often the days that offered the most or best blog material were also the days that I was dead to the world soon after dark. Some nights I had material but I just could not put it into a format that I found acceptable to post. There were many nights that I felt that if I prioritized my life correctly I would never have time to sit here and type stuff about a very ordinary person who is able to live an extraordinary life. In all honesty there were some nights that I did not post because I just ran out of “give a damns” for the day.

I did get 141 posts done in 2010 though and for the most part I am proud of what I posted and had lots of fun doing it. I really cannot believe the support I have received from all over the world which is a double edged sword. The more hits I get on this blog the more I feel I need to make it something special. I am going to continue posting, I no longer will strive for daily postings but will try to post 3 or so times a week on average like I did last year. Please keep the emails coming and I am really going to focus on getting the comment section fixed by the end of the month. I hope you all had a great holiday season. I certainly did but honestly I am mostly satisfied when it is over. There is just too much stress and pressure and commitments to keep during that time of year for my personal tastes.

So I suppose an update on the last 20 days of what has been happening in a general sense. One word would sum up most of the last month or so up and that word is WINTER. We had experienced several moderate winters with a few short term extremes over the last several years. It really spoiled me because I can handle the cold, grudgingly accept the snow but absolutely hate the short daylight hours. On an easy winter day it is not difficult to complete your chores at a leisurely pace between sunrise and sundown. When the winter is like this one it seems to take all the daylight hours and some of the after dark hours as well. I have no solid records to support this but I swear we have had more snow on the ground this winter than the last 5 winters combined. We have also had a fair share of cold temperatures. It is 17 degrees right now and we are supposed to go down to 11. The wind is from the north and has a really fierce bite to her. Other than last Saturday for a few short hours I swear it has not broke freezing in weeks. Tomorrow afternoon and night through Wednesday is supposed to bring 2-6 inches of snow, Arrrrghhhhhh. By Thursday we are supposed to be in the 40’s, if that happens I am officially declaring winter as OVER.

The snow and cold would not be so bad if we were not getting any calves on the ground. I usually have my spring calving cow’s start about January 25th or so and that was basically the plan for this year. Last March I brought home some spring calving cows in mid March and the only place I really had to keep them was with the fall calvers. This was really not an issue because they were only 30-40 days post partum and I did not feel they were “cycling” much yet. I really was not worried anyway because the only bulls they were around had issues that were going to keep the cows from “settling” One bull had failed his semen test and was only being kept around to gain a bit of spring “bloom” and then was off to become beef. The other bull had an issue with one of his rear legs and when he would try to mount a cow he was mostly unsuccessful and was awaiting the same fate of becoming hamburger. Well apparently they both had different ideas.

The spring calving cows are on corn stalks and other than a cursory look from my office window they did not need any real oversight until they got close to calving in late January. January 2nd I drove through them and found we had 4 calves already and we have been getting 2 or 3 a day since. It is not really the end of the world except for the weather and an alive calf is welcome around here most anytime. That being said I have already had more calving issues already in 2011 than I had all of 2010. Now that I am checking them regularly things are going pretty well but I did lose a couple of calves to weather issues and plain rotten luck. The first calf heifers have started this week as expected and so far so good but the twice a night checking adds just another load of work. These heifers are bred right and should be fine but just being heifers makes me check them about every 6 hours to check for any issues. It looks like if we can get through the weather over the next 48 hours then we will be in a better situation for awhile.

The cattle market is good with record prices for calves so that makes me happy. The downside is that in my cynical mind it seems that when calves are not worth much they all live, when they are worth record prices it seems that keeping them alive becomes more difficult for many reasons. The other issue is supplemental feed. When it is cold the cows need more supplemental feed which costs money. I will have fed more supplemental hay than I hoped to feed all winter by this time next week. Well it is about time for another heifer check so I will sign off. I will work to post more regular in the coming days.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the black field cricket aka Gryllus veletis.

Today’s picture is cow 4935G and her heifer calf on corn stalks.