Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Plowing snow

It was a brisk 10 above when I went out at first light to check the heavies.  Some of those girls are looking close, but no more new calves.

Plowing snow is risky business in this country where wind is prevalent.  Any berms or snow-piles pushed up by the tractor will catch snow and make a new drift when the next storm comes.  But I couldn't get down to the calving shed with a pickup, and there were
several places where I was forced off the road and out into the field by heavy drifts.  So I cleared off the roads, pushing the snow out into the field and spreading it to minimize future problems. 
Four-wheel-drive tractors are now as common as 4wd pickups, and they sure are a blessing.  There was an awkward era between the end of work-horses and the beginning of 4wd when a lot of tire chains and scoop shovels were used up trying to get around.

The main cow herd had been spread well up the side of the mountain in the morning, eating the grass exposed by the wind on the south slope.  I knew they would be down for water at noon, and I knew that there was a lot of snow piled up in front of the water tanks.  So after lunch I threw 6 sacks of thumb-sized grain-based range pellets in the loader bucket and headed up west with the tractor, rolling snow off the road with the back blade as I went.
With the tractor in gear I kneeled in the bucket and trailed the cake on the ground for the cows that came running.  Then I pushed and scraped snow away from the tanks, and bladed more snow off the road on the way back.
By the time I returned with the tractor a Chinook had blown in and the temperature was up to 45.  I was glad to have a lot of snow melting beside the road rather than on it!  With the worst of the drifts opened up and the bare spots turning to mud, I pulled the tire chains off the pickup.  No use to wear them out and tear up the turf with the snow at bay.

I had pulled the shoes off all my horses in December, and Thunder winced a few times as we worked cattle yesterday.  It's time to get a couple of horses shod up again.  I began sorting through my stash of shoes and drilled several pairs to insert borium studs.  We'll be doing plenty of running and cutting over the next few months and I want my horses to have the best footing possible.

The days are getting significantly longer - dawn at 6 AM and still plenty of daylight at 6PM.  It doesn't yet feel like spring, but we're gaining on it!

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