Calving versus Mother Nature
There is an old wives’ tale that says, 90 days after fog there will be moisture. I think the past two months has brought us more fog than I have seen since we moved here 17 years ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to start sounding like my husband (and virtually every farmer I know); and complain about moisture. I know moisture is very important and rain that would come in say late April and May would be such a great blessing for our crops and grassland. BUT… You see the behind-the-scenes stuff that happens during calving season (as wonderful and beautiful as it is) is very difficult to do in the middle of massive snowstorms.
Two years ago, we had a wonderful winter just like we are having now, mild temperatures, little snow, it was a great winter for us rural folks who don’t enjoy being snowed in for up to a week at a time. But as every season changes, winter turned into spring and brought with it mother nature’s wrath. We had several April blizzards in the heart of calving. We are still pretty old school and don’t have near enough barn space to be able to bring even our first calf heifers all in, so only the ones who were calving or just calved were lucking enough to stay in the calving barn or in the overflow of cold storage. We had pens wherever we could to try to protect them and their little ones the best we could. It was trying and exhausting, there was no two hour checks because you couldn’t even make it home to rest because the animals needed you more than you needed rest.
I felt like I didn’t see my husband for days, when he didn’t answer his phone after the twentieth time, I was constantly worried something happened. You couldn’t see two feet in front of you, even tracks on the side by side weren’t helping get them through the snow, the tractors spent more time stuck than not and even our kids Max (8) and Emma (10) and our high school aged hired man Simon could barely keep the animals’ content in the barn. They would take turns coming in and warming up in front of the fire and would fall asleep sitting up. It was the worst blizzard I have experienced on the farm, one none of us will ever forget.
It makes me so sad to hear of people talking about how ranchers are inhumane or abusive towards animals, I get there are always a few bad apples, but seeing your loved ones out in that kind of weather trying to save animals who still might not make it is the most beautiful and humane thing possible. The happiest day of 2019 was getting the last bunch of pairs off the place and out to pasture, after massive blizzards, followed by a sloppy mess of a spring, sick and dying cattle every day, it was a huge sigh of relief for Bill and the whole family. Like the saying goes, “life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride.” So here is a prayer for a safe and healthy calving season without that white stuff falling from the sky.