Shades of Ireland

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Winter anxiety

I was very happy when Neil called from work yesterday to tell me that he would be coming home early to help me haul calves in to the salebarn. We had three big calves that are in the 500-600lbs range that were ready for market LAST week. The blizzard last Tuesday cancelled the sale so Seth and I have been slogging thruough the snow to feed, hay and water them for an extra week. The forecast was for more snow this morning so we decided to haul the calves in last night to avoid the worst of it. Seth works at the sale barn and I just watched him leave driving his sister's car...... it is snowing. He is a new driver. I am an overprotective mother....... my hair will be grey before this day is over!

The cow herd came up to the corral and begged for "cubes". This is a cow feed that comes in huge pellets and is a higher protein. It is designed to feed out in the pasture and be poured from a big metal bunk on the back of a truck. Unfortunately, I am a shoestring farmer and I have to carry mine out in 5 gallon buckets and pour them by hand. What is worse is that my cows are pretty spoiled and really don't want to eat those cubes from the ground. I have a feed bunk and several barrels cut into troughs that I usually use. Today the pans were frozen to the ground and still full of snow. The girls just had to tough it out and eat their cubes with a little snow and I even poured some out on the ground----- deal with it girls! This is Kansas in the winter and I am one cold, tired rancher-ette!

I moved ( or rather had Seth move) two sets of the larger lambs outside to pens with huts. Getting those 20 lambs out of the barn sure improved the quality of life for all of us. This morning, I noticed that the wind had shifted and blowing bitterly from the NE---right into the huts. As soon as I have thawed out a bit, I am going to have to go back out and rig up some kind of a wind block for the hut fronts.

Charlie and I decided that we better get hay put out for the cows before much more snow fell.

This is our beloved Ruby. She doesn't look like much anymore and is begining to rust out. You cannot open the doors from the inside and I will honestly admit to losing my temper many, many times because I have to roll down the window and reach outside for the handle to open the door. The good news is that she cranks right up, has heat, 4-wheel drive and is paid for..... We don't need pretty to put out hay.

 I didn't take any pictures of us loading up the hay because...... it would not be flattering to me or Charlie. Backing this hay dolly up on a warm, dry day is sometimes a challenge. Backing it up through snowbanks is heartbreaking, slow and almost guaranteed to make me cuss. Today, it only took us 3 tries before we got it loaded and cranked up to move. Of course, we got a bit stuck on the way  into the pasture just to make sure we didn't get complacent. This is not the way most ranchers put out hay. They use a tractor or a truck equipted with a "Dew-Eze" that uses hydrolics to pick up a bale of hay and unload it. Again, this is paid for and will have to do until better times.

In weather like this, the cows don't care how we get it there --- just so we get it there!

It is cold and getting colder. My hand is sore and my mind and body are tired. I am counting hay bales-- large and small-- and wondering if I am going to make it to green up. Putting out hay is wearing the clutch out on Ruby. Did I make a mistake sending the calves in to sell today? Would they have brought better when the weather was better? Seth is a sensible kid--- surely he can keep the car out of the ditch to get home---right??
 I need to break ice to get water to the horses and put out better hay for them. Why do they insist on standing out in the falling snow when they have a barn??????

Yesterday, I nearly messed up and let us run out of propane for heating the house. I spent a near sleepless night worrying that we wouldn't have enough to make it until morning. The delivery man came out and filled it up before noon. My hero!

I need chocolate and a nap. My pioneer pluck is fading.... Enduring is getting OLD.

I just have to keep reminding myself that warmer weather is coming..... Saturday is forecast for 45..... Halleluia!!!! I can't wait for MUD.

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