Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mother Nature could use a Midol

Have you ever been so cold that you just plain did not care any longer and continued on with what you were doing in some sort of mental rebellion against Mother Nature? I am pretty sure that happened at least 3 times today. Tonight I have enjoyed a long hot shower and dry clothes for over 2 hours now and still feel like I have ice in my marrow. We have had a pretty easy winter so far, the last couple of days we have played catch up really well. 

Working with Mother Nature is often inspiring and so beautiful and breathtaking. She does have her days though when she proves to be a real biotch and she was needing her Midol today let me tell ya! I wont say it was terribly cold but I was surprised this morning by 3 cats sleeping in the outside refrigerator that told me to hurry up and shut the door because I was letting all the heat OUT. I really would have not been that concerned but based on standard gestation tables the first calf heifers were supposed to start calving tomorrow. Just in time for the "Snowmageddon" one decided to calve Tuesday of this week. The heifer calved on her own and everything was fine Tuesday afternoon when I returned home from my monthly Washington Cattlemens Executive meeting. Here is 0914 with her first child that day as she went from heifer to cow.

Tuesday had been a bit different in many parts of the state as you can see by our mascot fat steer at the WCA office. Luckily at home we did not have a drop of snow. Yesterday that all changed, the temperature dropped, the snow and ice started flying and the days spent just doing the basic care of the cattle like feeding and watering became all that I could get accomplished in the daylight hours. Well that and a bit of fence fixing as one unlucky gentleman had decided to jack knife his truck off highway 17 and into my fence early yesterday morning. I was glad that school was cancelled because that meant Dakota would be home to help keep me sane through the day. The new mother was taking good care of her calf and even though the cows looked a bit annoyed with the weather they had plenty to eat and luckily water flow was not an issue anywhere. 

I debated last evening if I should bring the calf in for the night but decided against it. The calf had gotten its colostrum (first milk with many antibodies) and his mother was doing a pretty good job of keeping track of him and keeping him fed and cleared of snow. I really hate to take calves away from their mothers especially first time moms unless it really warrants doing. I must have looked outside 10 times during the night and debated if I had made a wise decision. As much as I hated yesterdays weather I do want to mention it was my middle daughter Samantha's 21st birthday. We love ya Sam and look forward to seeing you enjoy your first (yeah right) drink in Nashville in a few weeks.

Early this morning Christine was home for a delayed work schedule and she went with me to check on the calf. The snow was really flying and it took us awhile to find the calf but he was quite alert and seemed to have good energy so we gave him a short pickup ride to momma and watched as he nursed.As the calf rode across my lap he decided it would be a good time to pee and one pair of jeans didn't last too long today. If a calf will keep nursing regularly they can stand some pretty cold temps and weather. I was soaked, cold and a bit wondering just why I do this for a living but I was glad the calf was doing well.

The weather continued to be nasty today and this afternoon I decided the calf should come in tonight and Mother Nature and I were having a bit of a standoff. I decided to try and get the calf in the corral and maybe get his mom to follow me inside as well. It took a bit of coaxing and a damn long walk carrying a calf in wind driven snow but Dakota did a great sneak move and shut the gate behind the cow just in time. Dragging a stock trailer up an icy hill proved to be a bit of an adventure for Dakota and I. Despite her claims of being on the edge of death it had more to do with my internal body temperature being 27.8 F than with the cliff next to the road we had to traverse. The good news is the calf and his mother are now at the home corrals in the barn where they are much more protected from the wind and snow.

The rest of today was spent chopping ice, a LOT of damn ice and feeding the fall calving cows and calves and bulls. They were just as miserable as the rest of the cows but they do have some natural wind barriers and some nice trees they can huddle in during the day. As I took these pictures of the fall cows today I was frozen to the bone. I was also smiling at Mother Nature and marveling in how even in her fury she could show such spectacular moments of beauty like a new calf suckling a first time mother. I also realized that we really do need the moisture and in the end I am still really lucky to have the opportunity to enjoy the life I do. I posted a "tweet" to twitter today with the above picture that I feel really summed up this wonderful life I am able to lead, "it is not just a JOB, it has to be a PASSION on days like today #ranchlife #cowboyup #whydaddydrinks"  That brings me to today's cowman YouTube music selection. Montgomery Gentry sings "Lucky Man'. All pictures can be viewed in full size by clicking on them.