Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No room at the Inn

Greetings from Elkhorn Creek Ranch near the epicenter of the Bakken oil formation!

It's official. We are at war with the weather.  December and January were beautiful and then came February and March.  The ONLY positive to 'winter 2012-13' is that there isn't much snow on the ground.  It has been COLD and WINDY and I am getting crabbier by the day.

So here we are... Two weeks into calving and it has been a struggle.  Thankfully we have a great support staff.  Pete's mom has a hot meal ready frequently and both G-ma's help shuttle Kyle around and take care of him.  Pete's dad is always there to help and my dad loves to feed hay for us, but honestly with the miserable weather calving has been more than a full time job for the two of us.

NOTE - as I write, my 'normal 3:00 a.m. shift' (in theory, each of us has been trying to get 6 hours of sleep a day) started a couple hours early with Pete coming in and waking me with news that he had to take '515' to the Watford City Veterinary Clinic.  Her abnormal presentation after exploratory palpation was upside down, twisted and backwards.  He probably should have counted heads, ears and feet!

So he loaded her up and headed down the road to see Dr. Pedersen at 1:58 A.M... Another topic for another day... the dedication of mixed animal (large and small) practice vets.


It is now 4:55 P.M.  Pete made it home from the vet clinic twelve hours ago with a healthy cow, but twins that did not survive.  Every year in October we have all of our cows ultra sounded by High Plains Vet Clinic out of Sidney, Montana.  They tell us the cow's due dates and if they are having a bull calf or a heifer calf.  Dr. Hovde has never missed twins before, but this one surprised us.

In the mean time, we have had nine calves (which have been weighed and tagged with most of them spending the first couple hours of their lives in the 'warming box') since midnight.  We have cleaned and re-bedded the calving barn and the close up cows, fed and watered all the close up and recently delivered cows, milked the colostrum from '515', done a couple loads of laundry, made some phone calls and started supper.

Pete in that same time has showed the sale bulls and heifers to three private treaty customers and made some additional phone calls concerning the business it takes to run a ranch...

SO, combined, we are working on 7 hours of sleep.  Hopefully, if the wind dies down tonight we can go from hourly calving checks to every two hour checks for one night before the wickedly cold temperatures set in again tomorrow.  If the wind doesn't settle, it will be another sleepless night (and they are really starting to string together)!  Old Man Winter holds all the cards... TGIA (thank goodness for adrenaline).

The 3:00 AM survival gear!
Note - the average highs for March are in the 40's with lows in the double digits.  NOT this year!

The alarm set for hourly check reminders.

I heard someone say eat the ground hog and lynch the weathermen this year.  I don't think those things would help, but I am thinking spring for sanity's sake (thus the Ground Hog and the Weathermen's sake).

The real feel was -24 out side, but ONLY zero in the calving barn this fine night.

A heated calving barn is on my wish list.  In the mean time, these 'warming boxes' warm and dry new born babies.  Once they are dry they spend a day in the calving barn before heading out with the other pairs.  Once out with the other pairs they have wind break and lots of straw for bedding.
The calving barn this morning after regrouping and catching up from the very cold night, very hectic night.  Everyone was especially glad to see the sun this morning.

More happy pairs... As you can see, the INN is FULL!

Until next time, here's to another sleepless night!

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