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Calving season begins and ends

MARCH 29

Last month I mentioned the inverter (tilt) table that Lynn uses to help his back and ease the pressure on his sciatic nerve. We had several calls from people asking about this. There are many brands and models available (more than a dozen are sold through Walmart stores, for instance) at a variety of prices. Lynn paid $120 for his, which is probably less than a person would spend for two visits to a chiropractor!

In mid-March we had more snowstorms and several inches of new snow. Several cows were starting to develop udders so we brought them down from the field and sorted off the ones that were due to calve first. A week later, however, some of the rest were also showing udders, so we brought them all down. We don’t want any of them calving up there in the snow — with the coyotes and wolves!

We put chains on the feed truck to get around in the snow and deep mud. Even though April calving is supposed to be easier than January calving, it looks like we’ll still have to put some cows in the barn to calve, in this weather, so Michael helped Lynn put straw in our barn stalls.

Lynn is still having serious problems with his shoulder, so last week the doctor scheduled a MRI to see how much damage there is. Part of the attachment is torn. We’re hoping he won’t need to have surgery.

Last fall an Idaho potato grower who bought a big ranch in Texas (and wants to grow potatoes there) wanted Lynn to fly down there to locate some water for wells. We were so busy with fencing projects that Lynn didn’t want to go. Last week, however, the farmer called again and talked Lynn into flying to Texas. Andrea drove him to Idaho Falls Monday evening, and he took a private jet Tuesday morning. By that afternoon he was locating spots where they could drill wells. That area of Texas is really dry — with hardly any grass.

The farmer flew Lynn back to Idaho Falls yesterday afternoon, and Andrea drove down to get him. He was really tired, and went to bed early. Then at 11 p.m. we heard a cow bawling and I looked out the window with the spotlight, and saw Cub Cake wandering around the maternity pen, bawling. We put her in the calving pen in front of the house, but it was so cold and windy that we decided to put her in the barn. She calved at 3 a.m. — a nice bull calf. So we have officially started calving!

APRIL 11

Weather was still wet and cold for several days after we started calving, and the first calves didn’t get to go out to the field right away. We put straw in the “sick barn” across the creek, and used it for a second-day shelter for pairs after they came out of the calving barn.

Last Saturday we realized our neighbour was preparing to move his cattle down to the field below our place, so we moved our yearling heifers around to the swamp pasture, where they won’t be adjacent to the neighbour’s cattle and bulls. We don’t want our heifers bred too early, and also don’t want them to get trich (since the neighbour last year had a problem with that disease in his herd). I called our heifers in from the field, and seven-year-old Dani helped follow them around to the swamp pasture. She loves to work with the cattle!

All the kids enjoyed “helping” during the week they were out of school for spring break, riding their bikes down here from Andrea’s new house. Dani was also hoping to see a cow calve (since she didn’t get to see one born last year) and especially wanted to see Maggie give birth. She made us promise to get her up if Maggie started calving during the night. Dani had her clothes in a pile by her bed, ready to jump into at a moment’s notice. Maggie started calving on Easter Sunday morning, so Andrea brought Dani down at 5 a.m. Dani and I sat in the next stall in the barn, and watched Maggie calve. Later that day she and Sammy both sat in the stall with Maggie and the calf, and then Dani sat in the pen with Maggie and her calf (after we put them out of the barn), petting that calf.

Dani has been helping us name most of the calves. She named one little heifer Shyterra, and was delighted that this calf would come up to the fence and sniff her hand.

Emily enjoyed seeing Buffalo Girl (her old pet cow that we raised on a bottle); that cow always comes up to Emily to be petted.

Rishira (a 16-year-old cow) calved 15 days early — a very tiny bull calf. Andrea had to break the sac and get him breathing; the placenta was detaching and coming out with the calf. He was very frail, so we put the pair in the barn, and had to help the calf nurse. He had a lot of trouble nursing, and we had to help him every six hours. He got pneumonia when he was only a day old, and we had to keep him on antibiotics for a week. Finally he is feeling better, and actually nursing without help.

Today was a nice day and Andrea started harrowing our fields, so we can hopefully start irrigating.

APRIL 23

Last week, I went to the Salmon Select Horse Sale with granddaughter Heather and her roommate (they drove home from college for the weekend, to go to the sale), and bought a gentle young mare that will hopefully become a horse for Dani. Michael and Carolyn hauled the mare home for us in their trailer. Her name is Whatzit but we decided to call her April because she was born April 15 (Michael’s birthday).

Dani was excited about the new horse, and led her around and brushed her. Andrea rode the mare a couple of days and she seems pretty mellow and kind. Dani rode her the next day, to the end of our lane and back, with Andrea walking alongside.

Last week Lynn started irrigating, and is enjoying how easy it is to turn the water on, with the headgates and improvements we made at each creek departure. We’ve had some warm weather, so the creek is rising.

All of our cows have calved now, except one. We are still waiting on Freddy. We are hoping she has a heifer, because three quarters of the calves this year have been bulls! †

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