Our year of extremes continues as winter arrived with full force yesterday! So what is it like on a ranch when winter arrives so quickly? Luckily, we had a bit of warning so earlier in the week we hauled home any cows that were on neighboring pastures; however, we did not expect to have so much snow, wind and such cold temperatures all at once.
No matter what the conditions are like outside, we must be outside making sure the animals all have appropriate feed, water and shelter.
Needless to say, todays task list is long! First, we must dig our way out of our houses and get to the tractor, which doesn’t have chains on yet. We must put the chains on as the main cow herd is 2 miles from home and about 500 feet in elevation above us. We must drive up with the tractor (as a tractor or snowmobile are the only two ways we can get to them right now) to ensure that they have come down to the haystacks. Since it is the heifers first time with the cowherd, they may not know what to do so its important to get a very good count of the entire herd. Once we make sure all the cows are there, we will roll out the hay and cut the ice for them.
Next, is the small group of bred cows that we hope to sell later this fall. We usually put out a hay feeder for a smaller group like this one, so we must plow a spot for the feeder in a sheltered location, chain the feeder to the tractor and pack it over and then feed a bale. A small group of cows like this are usually fed in our hayfields close to home and their water during the cold weather is in the barnyard. Since we didn’t have time to put up the last few rails in the barnyard, we must move some of the pens of calves around to make a pen available for this smaller group of cows to come into for water.
Next, the calves around the barnyard must be looked after. They are all being fed with bale feeders and have heated water troughs since they were weaned, so they are the last group to look after.
Luckily, we made sure the heated water troughs had all been turned on; however, that is not to say they will all necessarily be working. Each one must be checked and thawed out if frozen.
Our driveways will be the last location that gets plowed once the wind stops. It looks like we won’t be leaving home for a while!
How long will all of these tasks take? Between shovelling our grain bins, feed troughs, barn doors, shed doors and plowing our bale feeders and anything else that needs clearing, it will definitely take a full day along with a lot more plowing of roads tomorrow.
No matter what you have planned on a ranch, the weather sometimes determines our plans instead! A storm like this one means that there are a million things that must be done all at once. Our animals always come first no matter what the situation and we make sure that they are protected and have everything they need, even in absolutely terrible weather!