Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hay days with Skip and Roger!

Greeting from the ever busy epicenter of the booming Bakken!

'Hay' Skip! - (Not to be confused with "Hey, Kyle!")
I'm sure you have all heard that North Dakota was nailed by a 'Lion-like', "March, exit right"' precipitation and wind event Sunday nigh and Monday morning.  They are calling her Gigi and the national news spent roughly 15 seconds on it yesterday morning after forcing ALL +/- 330 million of us to endure nonstop coverage of 'DC' and the eastern seaboard's routine dusting of snow and periodic 'below freezing' temperatures this winter.

The kicker was that the regional weather forecasters were REALLY late predicting Gigi, who dropped nearly 2 feet of snow on parts of ND.  As you can see above, we received very little of the white stuff which I was thankful for.  It was the freezing rain that was more of a concern.  Kyle and I stayed home from preschool yesterday as it was 'all hands on deck' when the sun came up in the morning.  It was unknown how the two pastures of 'pairs' had fared the freezing rain and below ZERO (as opposed to FREEZING) wind chills.

We had our Under Armor base layers, smart wool socks and additional winter gear on and we were in the tractor by 9:00 AM yesterday and on the move.  Our mission:  Get an eye on every calf (there are over 100 of them now) and get the following out to each pasture:

1 alfalfa bale and 3 grass bales to the +/- 50 pairs of older calves (born between March 3rd and March 20th) - almost all first calf heifers

1 alfalfa bale and 1 grass bale to the horses

a grab of grass hay to the stud

5 grabs of grass hay to the mares

1 alfalfa bale and 3 grass bales to the +/- 50 pairs of younger calves (born between March 21st and March 29th)

1 alfalfa bale, 1 grass bale and 1 straw bale to the 15 pairs of 1 and 2 day old baby pairs

1 alfalfa bale and 1 straw bale for the barn babies

5 grass bales and 3 straw bales for the close up (soon to calve) cows

3 grass bales for the third cycle (mid April to mid May calving) cows...

What is my point to sharing all the details with you?  It was a HAY day.  We have HAY days every three days to be more efficient with our fuel, electricity, labor and tractor hours (depreciation).  In any case, it took Kyle and I 10 hours to get everything fed in good locations that offered natural protection from the cold wind and to find all the calves and make sure nothing had got too chilled from the rain and windchill of the night before.

While we were doing that, Brad was taking care of the calving barn, water and mineral.  The person taking care of the calving barn either moves cows into the barn before they calve or allows them to calve outside and then sleds the calves into the barn shortly after delivery, with mom following close behind the sled.  This is done day and night, every two hours, around the clock when it is too cold outside.

Pete on the other hand was laying inside watching TV... JUST KIDDING.  He was over at Pesek's loading fall calving cows that were sold to Nebraska.  The trucker drove around and through Gigi to get there and stayed on his busy schedule so on our end, we too 'made it happen'.

OK, back to our HAY DAY.  Ten hours is a long time in the buddy seat.  It really was a great day though.  We would role out the bale tails by hand.  We would walk the coulees checking for calves (and pretend to be black bears climbing trees).  We would chop ice on the water tanks.  We would talk about why we were doing what we were doing - from where we were feeding to how much we were feeding to what we were feeding.

We talked about how expensive the tractor was that we were using to feed with and how two of them cost the same amount of money as it took to build our house five years ago.  The expenses are an important part of the equation in all farming and ranching ventures, but especially with registered cattle operations.

When we finished rolling the horse hay out (and the horses were no where around), we ran an obstacle course on the hay back up the hill.  It was a race and when we got to the top I declared, "Now I'm thirsty".  Kyle quickly scooted over to some fresh snow and scooped it up in his glove.  We laid on the hay, ate snow and watched the clouds blow over.  I felt like I was 5 again, which was a great feeling!

The day got me thinking about how fortunate we are to live this lifestyle.  Gigi had me feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had an office job for a short period of time on Sunday night when I couldn't sleep thinking about the babies outside.  Yesterday, I was quickly reminded that I don't have to wait for a 'bring your kid to work day' for Kyle to understand what we do.  I've heard this quote come out of his mouth more than once, "My parents don't have jobs.  They ranch."


So yesterday, he was getting tired and when that happens 'his ears quit working'.  After rolling out a bale and watching him jump over and on it acting like a puppy I said, "Hey Kyle.  Lets go.  We still have a long list of things to get done before dark".  He ignored me.  The next thing that popped into my head and came out of my mouth (Why? I don't know)... "HEY SKIP!"  Kyle's immediate response, "WHAT ROGER?"

This set me back a bit as funny and random.  My question to him, "Why Roger"?  Kyle's response which will forever stick as one of his funniest, most animated responses, "Skip and Roger!  Get it?  I love you mom."  I didn't get it, but it didn't matter.  It was a great day that I was incredibly thankful for for so very many reasons.

The DAILY REPORT from 'Hay Skip and Roger' - all the calves are just fine and Skip's parents don't have jobs!