Friday, April 6, 2012

The weather has been great all through calving – maybe too great.  One worries about having enough moisture to make a good hay crop come summer.  Shoots of green grass are appearing, and the bushes and trees have buds. 

I had been anxious to get to some farming, but one thing after another keeps coming up to break up our day: the drain plugged up at home; a cow needed a trip to the vet; two semi-loads of hay were delivered; a new air compressor had to be unloaded and installed; the furnace quit, requiring disassembly and ordering of parts; there was a trip to town to buy a thermo-couple for the gas fireplace, another to take a check in for the tractor engine repair, and another to drop a ranch guest at the bus.

But the weather can turn any time in Montana, and this morning there were several inches of new snow.  The weatherman had warned us of this earlier in the week, so my nephew came up Wednesday to help me take advantage of a fine sunny day a horseback bringing in the last of the heavies and turning out pairs.

The calves had been coming fast and furious, and with all the interruptions we had gotten way behind in tagging the calves.  They are fairly easy to catch afoot in the first day or two, but after that the calves are too quick for humans – it has taken several sessions with a ropehorse to catch up. 

With the pairs gathered in the trap by the bridge, I ride through the bunch and pick off each of the calves as they “mother up”, and tie them off for my horse to hold as I make up a tag with a number to match his mother.  The job sure sped up when I had my nephew to help, as he was a high school wrestler – and he is much bigger than the calves!

Once the calves are all tagged we work ahorseback to pair them out across the bridge into the bigger field with the rest of the pairs.

It was good to have everything in good shape, as the storm hit on schedule, with several inches on the ground this morning.  Most of the cattle were sheltered in the brush, but they were sure glad to see a pickup-load of hay. 

It’s amazing how much weather even a newborn calf can stand once he’s been licked off well and gotten a belly full of milk.

1 comment:

  1. Its crazy how quick the weather can change. I hope its a good year for you!

    I agree calves are tough! They are born in the elements and survive in the elements - its downright amazing sometimes!