Sunday, April 27, 2014

Excitement in a Night Check? Some might call it that.

Sometimes those night checks are so exciting because we have lots of calves born.   Sometimes, they are exciting because no calves are born (especially on those stormy nights).  And sometimes those night checks are exciting and it has absolutely nothing to do with the livestock!   Such was the case last night.

The checks have been somewhat easy as I only have to walk out beside the barn to check one pen then drive up north.   During that drive I use as spot light to look for the 1/2 mile drive at the cattle in the pasture along the road.   It can be tricky but in the nearly 30 years I've done it I have not yet driven off the road!  I didn't last night either.  (Here is the image:  spotlight and head hanging out window of jeep driving slowly down township road.)

Last night however there were a few cattle up on the hill across the little creek.  I had to make a trek over there.   We had a little rain a couple of days ago so things are nice and sloppy out there.   I was nervous about going over there.  As it turned out I was right to feel that way.

I was carefully watching where I would step.  One foot got stuck.   I got it out.  So I continued on.     Carefully, carefully, ca.r.e.f.u.l.ll  Oh no.   I could hear the suction.  Yep, one foot got stuck.  I could not pull it out - well I could pull my foot out but not my boot. Try again.  Same result.  What to do?  Call someone for help?  Why?   So they could laugh?  (Heck, I'd be laughing if I weren't short of breath!)  After a few unsuccessful attempts, I took my gloves off, laid them on the ground so I had a place to put my foot.  I then tried to pull the boot out with my hands.   There was not way I could get that darn boot out.  Remember there are still those few head of cattle I am attempting to go check on.

Heck with them.  I shove my flashlight into my stuck boot.  (Looking back I'm not sure why.  I think it was to make sure my guys would find the boot later plus it would keep the cow manure out!) 
The flashlight and my buried boot

 I pick up my gloves and take off  back to the yard.  One boot off, one boot on, diddle dumpling ....
Good thing I wasn't wearing socks anyway!!

I still had to make the drive up north to check cattle.  Everything was okay.   When I drove back into the yard, I used my spot light to look at those cattle up on that hill.

Today Mark & Brett were out tagging calves so they got my boot and the flashlight.  Mark said it took some pretty good tugging to get that boot out.  They got the 4 wheeler stuck near that same spot too!

My salvaged Muck boot

the 4 wheeler stuck in about the same spot as my boot

Editor's note:   I was not able to upload this when I wanted to due to troubles with Blogger so I will add an update.   Brett told me of a better way to get to the cattle that are up on that hill.   I did that tonight and by golly it was WAY better! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New Life on the Ranch

Last night the guys had to help a heifer (one of the females that has never had a baby before) deliver her calf. She had been laboring for quite a while and, like some of us women, she just needed some assistance.  All went well with that.  Mark asked me to check on momma and baby when I checked cattle on my shift in the night (remember the 3 am check?).  So, at 3 am I went into the barn and found the two of them snuggled up close together.  Mom got up right away but baby didn't care that I was around.  I stood 'her' up.  I wanted to see if the calf had suckled (eaten) yet.  It is very important that the calf get colostrum (the first milk) in the first few hours as that milk from the cow has important nutrients to keep the calf alive and healthy.  I sometimes can tell if the calf has sucked by looking at the cows utter, but that is not always accurate.  This was one of the times I was not so sure.

So, I enjoyed the time of watching this Hereford calf run around the pen.  I thought about a name for 'her'.  Oops, I got a peek under the tail area and could see it for sure it was not a 'her' IT was a HE.  Shoot, I was going to name 'her' Nami, but now have to call it Dan!!   You see we'd gotten a 'Flat Nami' in our email about the same time this fella was born so I thought it would be fun to name the calf after her for her school project  (like the 'Flat Stanley' many of us have done before).  Instead we will have to use her Dad's name!!

Anyway, the calf skipped and jumped and slipped.  He ran and Mom sniffed and mooed at him.  Maybe she was telling him to settle down and eat?!  He played some more, peeked under mom.   Then he laid down for a bit and Mom came to lick him off a bit more (that is a cow's way of cleaning her calf off and her way of getting used to his smell so she recognizes her own calf).  She made him stand up and eat too!

So, after about thirty minutes of enjoying this bonding time I got to see this:

Dan's First Meal

I had a chance to get a photo of the calf  - now known as Dan - with Flat Nami:

I think Dan might be wanting to give Nami a kiss!!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sounds of the Night Shift

Back in the 'old days' - before Facebook & blogging - I used to send out emails to family and friends during my 3 AM cattle checks.  I would report on the previous few days or the weather or whatever was on my mind (& sometimes it didn't make any sense because I was too tired but HAD to stay up!).  Since Facebook, I have not done that very much.  So, I thought it was time to report again!  

The sounds on my shift tonight were so pleasant that I just have to share about them.

First, I wake up to the radio playing "I'll by Missing You".   So, that song is stuck in my head as I walk around checking the cattle.   (Lucky for all, I don't sing it out loud!)

First step out of the door of the house and I hear the jingling dog tags on Odie.  There is no wind which is perhaps one of my favorite sounds.   The sound of NO wind that is.  The temp is about 30 above so there is only a slight bit of ice on any water that had been running during the day.  The mud has just a little crunch to it from freezing on the top layer.  A train is heard off in the distance.  I walk down a little hill to check the heifers (those who have never had a calf before).  Clang, clink, clunk.  The sound of taking the chain off and on to get through the gate.  I hear, and see, a few 'girls' chewing on some hay.  Others chewing their cud.  Ahh, the sweet sound of a new momma resting with her baby as if to say, "Look at my baby, isn't it the best?".  She has the nicest, softest little "Moo" - almost like a whisper so not to wake the baby, but enough to get my attention.

The rustling of straw as I walk around the pen of heifers.  They sure have settled down since I started this shift the end of February!  Then they would get up and run, now I could snuggle right in with them!

A flock of geese must be flying over as I can hear the 'honking'.    I just hope they are headed north.

I crawl over the fence (there may or may not be a couple of human noises here) and climb up the hill to check on one lone cow.  Heavy panting sounds from the overweight human are heard.   Again, the quiet moo of a new momma cow.  Back down the hill, crunching ice as I cross the little stream of water.  Do you hear the babbling?   There is a little waterfall here too.

Up a little hill, over another fence and further up a hill.  Yes, the human is panting again!  Oops, a little calf is running around without the cow nearby.  It says hello, "Moo" in it's little voice then comes over to me.  "I am not your mom.  Go find your mom.", I tell the calf.  It is a cute little Hereford baby.

I climb through the feed manger and walk to the Jeep.  A bit of crunching of the thin ice and slightly frozen mud can be heard.  I can also hear two owls visiting with each other.  "Who-who-Who" followed by "Who".  (I never hear the 't' sound so I think they say 'who' not 'hoot'!)

Crunk, Bang.  The sound of the Jeep door opening (it has a few dings in it so the door hits the fender when you open it.).  Click.  rattle.  Click.  It won't start.  clunk.  (put it Neutral)  Vroom!  (okay, not really, but you know what I mean - the thing started!)  The crunching sounds of the ice bits again.  Roll down the window.   Now the crunching sounds of driving on a gravel road.   Banging around trying to get the spot light out the window - and plugged in to the lighter spot.  I drive along slowly using the spot light to check the cattle as I drive the half mile to the north.  I really don't hear much except the gravel and an occasional cow talking.  (Lucky for me, tonight I didn't even hear the coyotes.   Guess they were happy about no wind too.)

I turn around and come back home.  Tonight I leave the window down on the drive back too as it is so nice out.  I take time to enjoy the lights of Minot Air Force Base, the glow of the lights from the city of Minot and the dark sky so full of stars.  

Back in the yard, two dogs are excited to see me.  They growl and play with each other.  Their dog tags are jingling.  The third dog is waiting at the door.   They all want in the house.   "It is too nice outside.  You guys stay out."  *sounds of scooping dog food*  (I don't know how to describe that!)   clink, clink, clink as the dog food is put into three dishes outside.    Water is running to fill their water dish.  I need to tell them, "no", as I come into the house because Rufus still wants to come in.

There you have it.  The sounds from my cattle check.  It is so nice to have beautiful weather - with NO wind.