Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Winter Blast

We’re a little spoiled: there has only been one day below zero so far this ‘winter’.  In fact, we’ve recently had a couple of days into the fifties.  I used one of those days to cut out some stray cattle, and one of those days to finish burning the grass off a field that I will plow come spring.  I’ve been feeding hay to the heifers most days for the last month, but I’d only fed the older cows three times before yesterday.  There was no snow on the flats - only the remains of the drifts in the sheltered places.

The temperature was still in the forties yesterday morning, and after I fed the heifers I went down to the calving shed to set another post.  This post secured that portion of the wall from blowing in the wind, and supports the roof rafters along that section.  As warm as it has been there is no frost in the ground inside the shed – I may even get one more post set this winter.

The temp began to drop about noon, however, and the snow blew in.  I knew that the cows would be heading for cover rather than back out to graze, so I took them half a load of hay. 

The wind was blowing bitter cold and snow as I loaded back up, and I’d like to have had an ear-lap cap rather than my felt hat.  When the cows finished the hay they headed for the shelter of the patch of wild rye that is six feet tall.

By this morning the sky had cleared and the thermometer had dropped to ten degrees.  All the cattle had huddled down out of the wind, and they were sure glad to see me come with another load of hay.  A day of sunshine brought the temperature up to 20 degrees, and tommorrow promises to be even nicer.  There really is no “normal” weather in Montana.  A few years ago I was able to put off feeding hay until the first of February, and I was able to turn the cows out to grass in May.  The next year I had to begin feeding in November, and keep it up until June.  I put up enough hay this year to feed from January through May, and laid in enough straw to feed in December if the weather got bad.  The way things are going I will have enough hay to last all winter, and likely won’t need that straw this year at all.

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