January 10-13 brought snow - more than 211/42 feet of it. Lynn bladed the bedgrounds and put out more straw - until the loader broke while he was moving a big bale.
Until we got it fixed, we loaded all the hay bales by hand for feeding the cows twice daily.
The deep snow limited bedding and feeding areas, but we've been expanding the space by feeding at the edge of the deep snow morning and night, making the cows tromp and pack it down. This is better than blading it.
The packed snow makes it impossible for calves to get down to the dirt (which they love to eat) and doesn't leave piles of snow to limit where we can drive the feed truck. So far it hasn't been muddy, so it's been easy to keep bedgrounds clean. Also, cows haven't wasted hay when fed on the snow.
We've had fewer sick calves than when it's muddy. But, we've had chains on both feed trucks all month in order to maneuver through snow. We also rented a snow blower for a day to clear the snow off all the haystacks before it melted and ruined several layers of bales.
Calving Successes Calving has gone well; 24 of the 28 heifers calved in the first two weeks and 80% of the cows calved the first three weeks. It's slowed down now - we have only 11 cows left to calve, and getting only one or two a day. The last few will drag on until mid-February (the last one is due February 18). We've lost one calf (couldn't get him breathing after a hard birth) and had one set of twins.
We don't have many twins in our herd (this is only the fifth set in 32 years), so it's always a surprise. Our young cow, Mimsy, was surprised, too. She had her first calf quickly. When I went back to the barn 30 minutes later to see if it had gotten up to nurse, I found her standing there licking it, straining hard. So, I reached in and there was another calf coming. I pulled him out and dragged him around in front of her, next to the other calf.
Mimsy sniffed at him, bellowed, and kept looking from one to the other very bewildered. Finally, she started licking them both. She is now happily raising the two babies with a little help from us (extra alfalfa hay to help her milk better).
Our daughter Andrea helped with the calving until she went to the hospital to have her own baby.
A Special Birth Andrea was hoping to get through most of the calving season before her own baby came, but started having a few labor pains Sunday night, January 18, and Jim took her to the hospital Monday morning. Our granddaughter, Emily Rose, was born at 2:55 Monday afternoon, weighing 7 lbs. and measuring 1811/42 in. long with a full head of dark hair.
Andrea was ready to come home the next day, but the baby was a little slow starting to nurse (just wanting to sleep all the time). So, they kept her another day just to make sure all was well. Little Emily is no longer shy about eating. She's growing fast and keeping her mama very busy feeding her. But Andrea tries to get outside for a few hours each day to help with the cows while the baby naps.
Last week she and I were checking on a bull calf and saw that his navel cord stump had started to bleed. Andrea held the cord a moment to halt the bleeding. She then used a metal hair barrette and clamped it on the umbilical cord, fastening it just below the calf's belly. That worked well to stop the bleeding while the calf finished nursing. By then, the blood vessels had plenty of time to clot so we took the hair clip off and everything was fine. We've had only three or four calves bleed like that in 32 years.
This has been an interesting and hectic calving season, but one that we'll always remember as special - because of the arrival of little Emily Rose!
Heather Smith Thomas and her husband, Lynn, operate the Sky Range Ranch near Salmon, ID.