That should be a good thing. It's warmer now and hopefully, with any sort of luck, we just may yet see the end of winter. But still, when you're out trudging about in the dark, and the mud, and the slop, there's something to be said for frozen.
Frozen doesn't make the mud stick to my boots, making them heavier than they already are, or send my leg skidding off crazily in some odd direction when I step wrongly, on the edge of the bedding pack.
I like the summer. Quite a bit, in fact. I believe that we're in our seventh month of snow now and I am more than ready to change my view from white to something else. That something else, which is going to be the brown of mud for a while, but I'll take that. I don't, after all, have much say in the matter. It wasn't a week ago, that the only spots free of snow in the field, were the areas that I plowed open for the feeders and the trail to that and to the bedding pack. It made checking for calves at 3:00 A.M. pretty easy. Now, I have to wander about a bit more to shine my light on all of the bare spots to look for calves.
But the winter's not ready to let us go, just yet. It's snowing again this weekend. My cows let me know it was coming the other night as I made my rounds to look for new baby calves, huddled on the ground beside their mothers on random patches of the pasture where the snow had melted away. Whenever a weather change is coming, it usually brings on a mess of new calves. It's not such a bad thing though, because by the time the bad weather arrives, anything close to calving has, and we get a day or 2 of slower activity as we go into the poorer weather.
Because of the mud, I've had to abandon my insulated coveralls. I can't wrap them tight enough to fit comfortably into my rubber boots. They're warmer, and have better pockets, but by the time I've gotten around to check on everything, having them wrapped tight around my legs and jammed in my boots has driven me crazy. So, it's the lighter ones now that are stinking up our porch. I'm pretty sure that our house smells like the barnyard, but for some reason, every time that I wash them, I end up the next day with my arm up the backside of a cow and my freshly cleaned coveralls covered with inside of cow things.
There was a time that I enjoyed the night checking. It's quiet, and in the heart of the clear, cold night, there's more stars out than you have ever seen in your life. I try to notice those type of things, because being up all night looking after calves loses it's appeal a lot quicker than it did, even 5 years ago. Each trip is a mystery as to what you'll find. Whenever you think that one last quick look around, then you'll be able to pop into bed, there's sure to be a cow that needs help, or a heifer is calving too close to the muck hole. Which means that you're up for another hour making sure everything is alright.
And even on the off chance that you get all dressed up, and head out into the dark with your big-assed flashlight in the middle of the night, and find that nothing needs your help, you can't just come back into the house and jump right into your warm bed.
Because if you do that, and try to cuddle up to your wife's warm backside to share a little of her heat, she's probably going to let you know how much she DOESN'T appreciate that. And most likely, neither of you are going to end up getting any sleep.
We got snow again this weekend too. Enough that I'll have to brush off my car, but then at least I don't have to go trudging out to check on calving cows.ReplyDelete
Ours is mixed with rain, so it's eating away at that snow even more. I spotted a 12 in the forecast for next week, so......woo hoo! :)
This makes me admire and respect you all the more. I had no idea you got up in the middle of the night every night to check for calves! Do all cattle farmers do this? Wow. I mean, I get irritated with my dog when he once in a blue moon wakes me up in the middle of the night to let him outside, and here you are helping cows have babies in the middle of the night! That's crazy. And so awesome.ReplyDelete
Just during calving season, which is determined by the number of cows you have. We have about 170 cows,ao ours lasts a couple months. Plus we calve now, and it's usually warmer by now, so unless something is going on,(and there seems to be lately) one trip is generally all that's required.
We used to have over 300 cows and calf in January, so you were up pretty much all night. And it was A LOT colder!
It's 36 degrees here now. With a low of 25 overnight. Yeah. I think I am ready for spring too. Any day now. Anytime would be good, really.ReplyDelete
That's right about the same temperatures we're having. I agree, Anytime now would be fine with me too! :)
We had some flurries as well. It's never ceases to amaze me that even though I live much father south, the elevation makes up the difference.Delete
I just love your stories of your farm life. Like Kianwi, I admire and respect you all the more as well - I tried imagining getting up in the middle of the night - a frigid night, having to bundle up and schlep out into the snow/mud and mire - I don't think I could do it. I love that you look for the stars and listen to the quiet, and try to make it more pleasant. You get to witness a glimpse of the mysteries of life and that is really cool.
I can understand too, the appeal wearing off too. I keep being told that when I end up living somewhere that is generally only summer/spring type weather that I'll get tired of it.....hmmm...I kinda doubt it but I will be glad to give it a try. I think anything can become a routine though, and we risk taking it for granted, or getting tired of it, unless we try to look at it with a new perspective.
Nonetheless, I'll be wishing your snow away - 7 months is a loooooong time for that!
Hello, my friend!Delete
It was so much easier to enjoy being up most of the night doing this when I was younger. This may seem odd, but the hardest part actually seems to be getting up and actually putting on all of my layers every time I go back out. Once I'm out, it's not really all that bad, but still, there are days, I think about doing a different job.
One of my favorite memories when I think back at all of the years that I've done this, is the year there was a comet going by. I'd go out every night and watch the sky to see where it had moved to and it's progression through the night sky.
Last night, after I wrote this, there was thick, soupy , zombie fog when I went out. It was terrible, I couldn't see anything and it took me forever to make my rounds. Plus, I'm a little ashamed to say, it freaked me out a time or 2 when I let my imagination get the better of me. It was an unusual night.
I might be wrong, but I suspect, it's a little easier to live in a warm tropical location and visit the cold winter, than it is to live in the cold winter, and visit the warm tropical location.
Someday I plan to test that theory. :)
Oh, it's been so long since I've seen a black night sky filled with a gazillion stars -- urban light pollution prevents that here in the city of course. Those kind of night skies were nightly realities when I was a kid.ReplyDelete
About 3 or 4 days ago, the sky was phenomenal! I'd swear that you could almost see swishes of hundreds of stars like someone had taken their hand and stirred it through them like the sky was pond that you lay on the dock and run your fingers through.
That's one night that I've filed into the album in my mind for later. :)
You make me think about things I've scarcely given thought to. It must take a lot of fortitude to do what you do.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure about fortitude? Maybe you just have to be a little crazy to try make your living this way? :)
Its mud season here too. It sucked my shoe clean off in the chicken coup last week. I was just out there this morning and complained about the cold while simultaneously thanking it for the frozen mud.ReplyDelete
I know exactly what you're talking about! We had rain mixed with snow yesterday and I was not looking forward to the mud last night. Fortunately, the temperature dipped and I didn't have to deal with it at all. :)
Kianwi took the words right out of my mouth. I had no idea that you have to help the heifers when they calve, and get up in the middle of the night. Do you have to help the more experienced cows, too? See -- I know the difference between heifers and cows now. ;-)ReplyDelete
Ya, I've been up every night for about a month or so now. Not all night, every night, but there's been a few with only a bit of stolen sleep.
Mostly, the cows look after themselves. I just need to make sure that they haven't gotten themselves into a spot where the calf is in danger of sliding into a water hole or something like that. Occasionally, I have to bring one in to assist if it's a breech or has a leg down or something. If that's the case, I have to put my arm in and straighten things out.
The heifers are penned separately so they can get a bit of extra attention. For the most part, they do alright. But sometimes, since it's their first calf, they'll need some help or take a little extra time to mother up. They just have to be monitored a little closer. :)
How long do your winters last? What dedication to these animals that you cut up and eat!ReplyDelete
For some reason this one seems unusually long! It's generally hit or miss if we'll have snow on Halloween, but it should be gone by now. However, it's not unheard of to get a blast of snow in May, and I've seen it snow in June once as well. Far too long for me.
I can't eat them all! :)
Slushing out in the mud in the middle of night to check a calving cow, that's enough to make me give up veal.ReplyDelete
I'll keep slushing, if you keep eating beef. I'm good with that.Delete
That is hard, cold work Ken! I saw the calf photo you posted on Facebook. Aww. Wow, I have a lot of admiration for what you do. This winter seems to be just the longest ever. When will it finally give way to Spring so you can hang up those insulated coveralls and muck in the mud a little. I really enjoy reading about life on the farm.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much! I was just looking tonight, more snow in the forecast for later this week! It's been a terribly long winter. But at least, it can't go on forever......can it?
I hear you, my man. I'm not up checking on calving cows, but I'm beyond sick of cold weather. We don't get snow. We just get cold. We are opening our pool on Friday. Now I'll be forced to look out my window at the pool and some dead palm plants, wishing that I didn't have the heat on 73. Oh, and my husband isn't out galavanting around the farm at night with his big assed flashlight, but he still tries to steal my heat when he comes to bed. So unappreciated.ReplyDelete
I don't know why you guys are so stingy about sharing your warmth to a little cuddle at night. I know that if the tables were reversed, I'd be more than happy to let my wife put her frozen feet in the small of my back while I was sleeping to let her warm them up.......I think. :)Delete
Opening the swimming pool, eh? I can still walk across the the pond in the back 40 where I go fishing because it's still covered in ice. Swimming outside is out of the question for at least another couple months. Unless you're a lot more hard core than me? :)