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Snow forced the cows home early

Eppich News: Post-pounder truck becomes multipurpose vehicle

The four-wheel-drive post pounder truck served double duty in getting hay out to cattle after the snowstorm.

The beginning of November surprised us with snow. It started the evening of Nov. 7 and all the next day. By the time it was done we had more than two feet of snow. According to the radio, that was more snow than we got in October, November, December and January combined last year. Luckily on the 7th we were able to haul ditch bales home. We have a few more out there yet to get, but it’s good to have most of them home.

We were hoping to be able to keep the cows out at pasture for a while yet, but the snow made it impossible. On Nov. 8 we loaded up the post-pounder truck with two bales to take to the cows over at Landis and try to give ourselves a few days to get organized enough to bring them home. The post-pounder truck is the only four-wheel-drive we have and it has a flat deck. Thanks to the pounder it also has quite a bit of weight to it, so Gregory was able to get the truck through some very deep snow.

On Nov. 12 we moved our windbreak panels out to the little home pasture where the cows will live for the winter. The wind has been crazy lately. We put out a few straw bales for bedding as well.

On Nov. 13 John pushed snow so that we could get the trailer to the corral on the native pasture. With the crazy amount of snow and the ever-constant wind, we were not going to be able to use our new corral on the other pasture. So we decided to haul the cows home from the native pasture and then drive the cows on the other pasture the 3-1/4 miles around to the native pasture.

The corral on the native pasture is only about a ¼ mile from the main road, so John cleared out a trail for the truck and trailer and then made a few more passes so that the trail would not blow in. We usually use the longer stock trailer and the Mack to haul the cows home but with the snow that wasn’t going to work. So, we put the post-pounder truck on the two-horse trailer and hauled the cows home four at a time.

New experience for the cows

By the evening of Nov. 13, all of the cows from the native pasture were home and fed. The next morning I took my horse Danny and we drove the cows around to the native pasture. It was actually quite a challenge because we have never driven the cows anywhere but to the corral. They had never been out the north gate but they were willing to try until they got out of the brush and the wind was blowing right in their faces. They turned around right away and went back into the bush. Gregory was on foot and we finally managed to get them out of the trees.

Once we got them away from the trees a ways, they saw the truck and trailer and headed over to it. Gregory was then able to drive ahead of them and lead them through the gate. Once through the gate they had no idea where we wanted them to go, so they decided to kick up their heels and run every which way. John had brought his own truck and he was able to turn some of the leaders, while Danny and I brought the rest of the herd around to the main road. The ditches were full of snow and so the cows didn’t try to go through the ditches, but they tried every approach. Things started working much better once John got ahead of them with his truck to give them a leader. I rode in the fields to try to keep them on the road and Gregory brought up the rear with the truck and trailer.

Danny got a very good workout trudging through the deep snow in the fields. Then we came to the crossroad where we needed to turn the cows south. The snow was deep everywhere. We tried to go through the ditch where it looked a little better. But it wasn’t. Danny got stuck. I quickly got off of him and with some encouragement, he struggled out of the deep snow. I checked him over quickly and then mounted and we sprinted down the road to turn the cows. One cow got ahead of us and poor tired Danny had to find another burst of speed to get ahead of her. Once we were ahead of her, she turned back to the herd. Meanwhile, Danny and I had to carefully stop and turn around. It was quite slippery.

After the cows were turned and headed south, there were a few more approaches to guard but the cows were getting the idea that we were driving them down the road. Finally, we got them turned into our native pasture and they happily followed John’s trail right into the corral. We were able to haul them home, four at a time again, and then we brought Danny home. He got a few days of much-deserved rest and some oats in the corral so that I could keep an eye on him and make sure he had no lameness issues.

On Nov. 26 we celebrated the American Thanksgiving. We had a nice turkey supper with some homemade cherry and pumpkin pie. We have so much to be thankful for. We often take things for granted until they are gone. It’s good for us to sit down with the family and to be grateful for what we do have.

About the author

Contributor

Heather Eppich is a young former Idaho rancher building a new farm and family with her husband and young son, near Handel, Sask. Contact her at: [email protected]

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