Here’s the deal….after hubby’s last cow/heifer check around 8PM…off to bed he goes and I stay up to do the 9PM until midnight’sh checks.
This is productivity time, right? When women have a stretch of uninterrupted hours….we accomplish things!
For me, it’s email catchup, laundry, tidying up, cow-checking, baking, meal-planning, bill-paying, blogging, cow-checking, revisiting webinars I registered for but wasn’t able to attend “live”, photo-editing, Oilers hockey to watch, record-keeping, cow-checking……
Sometimes sad things happen here on the ranch. Whenever animals are involved, you can bet you’ll experience some grief from time to time. This is especially true for someone like myself. I get very attached to practically every living thing around here!
We lost our very second calf born out in the cold just as calving was barely getting going a few days ago here. This was the first calf for this heifer and she is a lovely, quiet animal. Every good rancher wants to keep a healthy, lactating cow doing just that. So we needed to put a twin on her. Of course, we have none in our herd, so hubby reaches out to his network and locates a buddy with plenty of twins on hand already.
This means we take a road trip the very same day and pickup a lovely little quiet heifer calf. She got the whole back seat of the truck to herself and traveled like a seasoned tourist. Thank goodness, as otherwise she would have been hogtied…I can’t bear to put a sweet animal into that discomfort.
Needless to say, her entry into our herd on this sad day of loss certainly lightened my day, especially so when momma took her on like a champ and the little gal was able to suck away and right away.
The irony of this whole episode occurred next day when we received 2 sets of twins from 2 heifers one after the other. We are blessed!
Our calving season 2023 is underway. According to the calving record book calendar…..it wasn’t to be happening until next week. I know, I know….mother nature has her own calendar and we continue to be humbled by it year after year.
The March weather is giving us grief and challenges. We are grateful for our big hip-roof barn for sheltering mommas with their newborns but unfortunately we haven’t been able to heat it due to some technical hiccups with our ancient heater and the inability to get the propane company delivery truck out here to fill our propane tank! We have to call and deal with someone in a call center most likely in the maritimes (or from their bedroom – who knows these virtual-work-from-home-days??!!) What a beautiful and welcome sight – when that propane truck finally drove into our yard!!
Meanwhile, and this is a first for us, we had back to back twins delivered from a couple of our first calf heifers in the midst of this chill and these challenges. Always exciting to have twins come along – but at the same time, they provide another subset of issues on top of the normal calving and feeding routines for the rest of the herd on a daily basis. Will the mother accept them? Even if she does, will she have enough milk to feed both? (Especially a concern with first calvers).
This little twin was telling me she could use a little more to eat…so I have a warm supply of milk replacer always on hand to help out. Bottle babies are a little more work but it’s sure rewarding to have them need you now and then.
There are probably more rewards than challenges during these long days and nights of calving. Tonight we celebrated the warmth of our barn since that welcome visit from the propane truck and hung out there while our heifer calved peacefully in the pen beside us.
Confession time….I like doing chores. But when the husby is home from trucking and he takes over doing them, I feel disjointed, out of place. I realize I really do miss doing those chores and hanging out with my critters.
So, I insisted that I help out too-even though this is when I really should be catching up on “the books” but where’s the fun in that?
Those first two paragraphs have rested in draft form in my blog since last year January 2022 and wouldn’t you know it…the very same scenario exists this year.
I set about capturing selfies as we chored together recently….this in itself is a rare event as he is on the road so much more. I felt the need to document this day because it somewhat defines “my why” for blogging. I feel the day will come when I may need reminding of my joy on this farm and ranch.
We had some calves born later than the rest to mom cows we thought were “open”. Hah…well, the joke was on us! Happily, they all calved on their own in the pasture and raised some sturdy little critters. These young’ns have had to endure some awfully nasty wintery days since the white season hit us and I do mean “hit us”!
One fella in particular has touched my heart and even the hubby’s…so we will plan to keep him as a bull. As soon as he was born I knew I wanted to call him Joey. So now when he grows up big and bold here on the farm – he will then be called Big Joe.
I see by his heavy hair coat here, Mother Nature has provided the way for him to tolerate this frigid and challenging winter season. Another way he kept warm was to cuddle in amongst the huddling cows as they do during a blizzard. He would have been snug as a bug in the middle of that group in the picture above.
Not to fear Joey…the balmy days of spring and summer are soon here!!
In a single day of chores I have put in squats, stretches, quad work, climbing, lifting weights and a whole lot of cardio from walking, walking and more walking. And the best part? A whole bunch of fresh air!
The second-best part? I get to have my dogs accompany me everywhere…and they do accompany me everywhere I go.
So really, what dark, noisy, sweaty old ( or even bright and new) gym can offer all that?
If it weren’t for these lovely ladies and the rest of the herd I suppose I’d have to take up housework!
I see ( and I knew without looking) that it has been almost a year since I last posted to my blog. That’s not good. This is my diary of sorts…my journal of farming activities…the part of my life that defines who I am to the core. Why would I abandon this?
Exactly…..I won’t abandon this. We’ll just say I have been on a sabbatical from “blogging” for a few months (whereby I have been anything but sabbaticall-ing….what does that term mean anyway?)
Sabbatical means a “paid leave”….hah-hah….guess we can’t call my blogging absence a sabbatical then as I’ve been anything but “paid”!
Suffice it to say…I am back to my blog. Sabbatical is “over”.
There are numerous high-value assets here on the ranch. During my years working and living this amazing life I believe I have identified our top three – but their order of importance varies over the seasons. They are:
– a live healthy calf,
– a reliable, functioning tractor,
– a good solid three day rain.
As of last night, we are about to experience the latter and we are sure happy about that. (My regrets to the grain farmer at this time)
I also tend to unnecessarily stress a bit about those calves after a long rainy and windy night…that they’ll likely get separated from moms in the weather drama and when I hear the early morning bawling in the field it just reinforces my state.
But I have to remind myself yet again that the bawling is the seeking out for each other and a momma will always sniff out her babe. Peace and harmony soon returns if I just leave things alone.
It’s now a day to watch that rain gauge fill and listen to the grass grow…it’s a happy ranching day!!
There are times during calving season- actually many times – when the rancher has to step in and help Mother Nature along.
For instance, sometimes we have to teach the calf to latch on to momma’s teat, especially if she has a “big bag and big teats” that might be too much for the little gaffer to figure out on his own. But once he/she gets that first satisfying “pull” – well, there’s no turning back – off to the races and good health! That all important first suck from mom is the key to establishing a good dose of immunity against the hazards ahead.
That first “dose” is called colostrum and if a newborn calf hasn’t received this natural elixir within its first few hours of life, his/her chances for thriving dwindle fast.
We like to have this colostrum stored as a backup if we’re ever in a position where a calf is just too weak to even be coaxed to suck. I thought it might make an interesting story for the blog to share this all-important process and task that we undertake from time to time when we have a cow with an abundance of milk to share and store like good old Flopsie provided for us this year.
Husby steps up for the extracting task (after all, he grew up with dairy cows). I step up for the cleaning and storing task. We all have our roles.
Finally, our dear cats get the residual, a rich yummy treat…we all have our roles!
I’ve been after husby lately to supervise and ultimately teach and correct my fencing skills. Like any ranch, there is always a string of fence to mend and thanks to the county snowplow during this past winter, piles of snow had been pushed vigorously enough to dismantle quite a few spots on our east field. Jackpot for me! Training ground!
We have never had the time to properly teach me this oh-so-necessary ranching craft so once again I am benefiting from this pandemic and the way it has slowed down the pace of our lives. So, out we trekked a few days ago and Fencing 101 Berg Style began.
Before this day, my main role in fencing was simply driving the staples into the post after the wire had been rejoined and stretched by The Mr. But when The Mr is away trucking for more days of the year than home…and the fences have the regular tendency to fall apart, then I have to be ready and proficient enough to return the premises to the same secure state as when he left the yard.
The secret then, in fencing repair, is mastering “the eye”…. He tells me to wrap it around my hand and then wrap the end of the wire fence back around itself. Make sure both ends of the string of wire to be mended have these two “eyes” that will hold the strip of barbed wire that will be looped into these eyes, then stretched with the wire puller and voila!!! All repeatable steps for each area needing repair. What a revelation…to master the concept of these eyes!!
I think this blog post requires a sequel in the form of a You Tube type video depicting the classic repair of a broken ranch barbed wire fence….there are a lot of entertaining steps in the entire repair of such a thing as this, so be watching for it soon!!