Friday, May 13, 2011


I went all day today in my shirtsleeves!  Could this be spring?

Thus far in May we’ve mostly been waiting.  Calving is about finished, feeding takes only a couple of hours a day, and there are dozens of tasks to be accomplished before haying.  But the rain and snow keep returning to impede any serious projects.
We’ve had draught for the last ten years, and it looks like it’s broken.  Snowpack is at 130% of normal and we just got another 3” of rain.  In fact there was so much water coming down the creek today that I had to fork out a bunch of weeds that were plugging up an irrigation ditch and spilling it over its banks.  What we really need now is sunshine to make the grass grow.
The calves are doing wonderfully.  Some ranches have trouble with scours – diarrhea – this time of year, but our calves are spread out over a few hundred acres of grass, and we’ve had no sickness.
One of the first jobs to accomplish in the spring is harrowing the hayfields to break up the manure and clumps of hay.  We got a start on that job before the big rain, and I’ll get back to it tomorrow. 
The cows are tired of hay and are eager for the green grass – they are looking for any kind of hole in the fence.  A handful of yearlings found a place where the fence reaches almost to the river and they made a trail around the end of it to get into the hayfield.  The alfalfa isn’t up enough yet to be dangerous, but I spent some time this afternoon with the loader-tractor and chainsaw to pile up limbs across their trail. 
I also put out a few more sacks of the granular feed to supplement their protein and energy.  This is the critical time of year when they are healing up from calving and getting into condition to re-breed.  Inadequate nutrition now can cause them to calve later next year, cutting the pay-weight of next year’s calf crop.
Further down the road they are getting some farming done.  But at our elevation we are still in a holding pattern, waiting for it to dry up enough to start getting things done.

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