Friday, April 8, 2011

April Showers

April showers...May flowers – it all sounds so romantic.  But when that April shower is snow – seven more inches of it – the idea isn’t so exciting.

With this fresh snow – on a base of mud – I threw on a set of chains before I backed out of the shop.  This ordeal took just under 5 minutes – including the time to grab a feed sack to lie on while reaching under the pickup to fasten the back side of the chains.

Thankfully the snow all came straight down – no drifts to fight.  But the top bales off the stack each dumped their load right down my neck as I pulled them over to load the pickup.  And with a temp hovering just above freezing, my gloves were soon soaked.  In such slop as this, I elected to split the feedings to all the cows – I gave them just enough in the morning to clean up, then returned in the afternoon with the rest of the day’s feed.

One of the cows I had run in to the shed to calve yesterday, struck out instead across the river to calve on the island.  I hunted her up today, and found mother and son doing nicely in the shelter of the brush and trees along the river.  The ones that sneak away to calve like this nearly always do fine.  It’s nearly that is the operative word.  Were she to have a problem deep in that thicket I would likely not find her.  And if I did find her, it would be struggle to get her back to the shed where I could help.

Cattle can stand a tremendous amount of cold – if they are dry and have a belly-full of feed.  I gave them all a little extra hay today, but with all the moisture in this snow and the mud underneath, dry is a problem.  So I took another bale of straw out to the calves late this afternoon.  It’s amazing how quickly a week-old calf can figure out where to sleep!

But there’s a common saying in Montana:  “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”.  Ten days ago it was bare and dry and shirtsleeve weather.  In another ten days I’ll probably be farming.  And all this snow has the mountains at 125% of normal, so the springs will be flowing and there will be plenty of water in the river come summer.

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