Saturday, February 11, 2012

Falling Snow

“Look, the snow is falling straight down,” said Emma at breakfast this morning.

That may seem like rather a strange comment to many people.   But the snow doesn’t often fall straight down here, so this was indeed a noteworthy event.

My son-in-law Phil was raised in the fertile and protected Gallatin Valley, where Bozeman is located, and went to college in Iowa, thus rarely experiencing the fierce wind-driven snow that is common in the prairie states.  One fall he commented to me:
 “I’ve never seen it snow like this and blow like this at the same time!”

I asked my daughter who was standing nearby if she had ever seen it snow and blow like this before.

“I never saw the snow come straight down until I came to school at Bozeman.  It’s kind of pretty!”

Wind is a constant factor east of the continental divide.  It can be quite a challenge to decide how much snow you’ve really had, as it is piled up deep down-wind of anything that interrupts the force, and blown clear where there is no obstruction.

A woman from Minnesota told the story of attending a convention in Shelby, Montana.  She watched anxiously out the window as it snowed heavily all day.  When she finally left the convention site, however, she was amazed that there was no accumulation.

“What happened to all the snow?” she asked a local.

“It’s probably in North Dakota by now,” was the reply.

There was no wind yesterday, but the temperature dropped from 18o to 8o above for an overnight low.  The cattle wouldn’t be huddled together out of the wind in the brush, so I gave them some nice, bright, straw to munch on and to bed in.  The heat of digestion and the insulation from the frozen ground will help keep them warm. 

One feedlot study showed an increase in weight gain of 30% when cattle were bedded out of the mud with straw.  I’m not expecting my cows to gain weight on straight hay, but they can lose weight when the weather draws away more energy than the hay produces.

 And besides, I live in a nice warm house provided by the production of those cows.  The least I can do is give those cows a warm bed as well.

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