Friday, February 7, 2014

A Rancher's Snow Day

You know how you fluff up the fleece blanket and get nestled in with a good book and hot mug of coffee on a cold winter day?
We do the same thing for our cattle -- minus the book, of course. And the mamas take care of the warm drink.
After the snowstorm on Tuesday, the guys brought big round bales of straw to each of the locations where we have cows or heifers waiting to calve. On the front of the tractor, Jake carried one bale of straw. On the back, he hauled two better quality alfalfa bales for the cows to eat.

The guys had spread straw out earlier, but it was covered up by the 9 inches of snow we received. First, Jake used the scoop to scrape away some of the snow and level it out. They selected a spot south of a windbreak, in this case, the old barn.
After Randy removed the net wrap from the straw bale, Jake used the grapple fork to shake the bale apart.
He picked it up.
And put it down.
He continued the process until the bale was fairly well broken apart. I was focused on taking photos, so I didn't see any extra passengers - aka mice - scatter as the bale was spread out. Randy says that's a common occurrence, but I'm not a fan of the little critters, so I'm glad I missed that!
The straw gives a drier and warmer place for the cows to lie down. You always hope they are smart enough to have their babies in the straw, too, but it doesn't always happen that way.

These photos are from another year (and a different location), but it does show that the cows and calves put the straw to good use.
The snow also makes it more challenging to feed. The guys still load and feed silage for the feeder cattle. They haul alfalfa hay to all the locations. They also have to haul water to the locations where it's not available on site.
We have to keep the mamas "fueled" so the babies have plenty of warm milk to drink.
Everyone likes a warm drink on a cold day. 


  1. Thanks for sharing! I must say that I agree with you...ick on the mice!

  2. Oh the cows LOVE the straw. Just a line of babies in the straw. Its amazing they know which one is theirs. :) We've had a buncha snow, and a flood of babies.