Montana weather is notably fickle, and what we call “spring” is no exception to that rule.
Monday was pleasant and warm. Most of the snow had melted off, and there were actually green shoots at the base of some of the grass plants. I took the opportunity to sort off some more heavies into the field in front of the house, and even threw up a length of electric fence to give the heavies fresh clean ground.
On Tuesday I was glad to have made that cut when I did, as we received a foot of fresh wet snow. Cows have a tendency to calve ahead of a storm, and there is often a lull during the next day or two.
Wednesday was a time to dig out from the storm. I rescued the pickup from its precarious perch on the sidehill, dug out the drift blocking the front door, and made a couple of passes plowing snow off the lane out to the county road. There were a few calves to tag, and I ran a couple of cows in the shed where they could calve on dry ground.
The cows kicked back into high gear today, delivering 7 new calves so far. Six of them accomplished their task without any fanfare. One, however, was another of the two-year-olds who needed a little help getting the job done.
I logged a couple of hours of horseback time checking the calves and bringing in the heifer bunch for another sort. There were nine head yet to calve among those heifers – four of them went into the heavy bunch, and five went to the outside cow bunch. That leaves only the yearling heifers in that field, and now I can begin throwing pairs out with them where they have plenty of room to spread out on clean ground.
As we ate supper I could see another cow in active labor. A check just before dark showed a new wet calf wobbling around looking for an udder. His mother was considerate enough to bear him on an island of straw, giving him the advantage of insulation from the heat-sapping wet snow. It may get down to twenty degrees tonight, but with an attentive mother he’ll do fine.
My goal is for two-thirds of the cows to have been bred in their first heat cycle. I’ve only been calving from my bulls for two weeks now and already have over half the calves on the ground – it looks like I’m on track to accomplish that goal.