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Friday, January 17, 2014

A 3 Day Old Calf and a Blizzard

Earlier this week we had beautiful weather.  It was the perfect time for new babies on the farm: a calf, pigs, and lambs - all born within about 24 hours of each other. 

Unfortunately, this was also a week when a 2nd virus came through our house.  The first one hit just as we got back from Christmas parties, knocking everyone down but myself and our almost 3 year old Jonathan (who might have had a touch of it since he slept talked an entire night when the others were sick). This new virus first got a hold of our 5 year old (who is now better), and then Ethan and our 9 year old went down with coughs and high fevers. 

Yesterday afternoon I went outside to check on the new baby animals. and all was well and the day was beautiful. I came inside and took a short breather at the computer, only to hear that a blizzard was coming.  And just like that the snow started falling and the wind started howling to white out conditions. 

While supper was warming, I headed outside to check on the animals.  Ethan wasn't home from the office yet, and I knew that he would not want to be fighting through the blizzard with his temperature. Although the cattle were caked with snow, they seemed fairly content at the hay bales or behind wind breaks, and everyone else was warm and dry.

I fed the kids their supper, cleaned up while they played some games in the living room, and waited for bed time when I could sneak back out to check on the animals again, especially the 3 day old calf. 

Blizzards like this are hard on animals, especially the young ones.  A warm day which produces wet, heavy snow coats their hair.  As the temperature drops and the wind picks up, the snow turns to ice on their bodies, significantly changing the insulating properties of their hair. Imagine the difference of wearing a dry fluffy down coat vs. a fluffy down coat that has first been dipped in water and then frozen before you put it on. I think you can get the picture.

Once supper was done and the kids were tucked in, I crawled into my coveralls and coat, grabbed the spot light, and went in search of the calf.  Sure enough, he was covered in bits of ice.  It wasn't the worse ice coating we have had on our animals, but it was enough to make me want to dry off this young one. 

Thankfully I had purchased Ethan a lariat for Christmas and this calf was close to the fence.  I prefer not to go chasing and grabbing new born calves away from momma cows with horns.  Especially when I am out by myself. As you can see, I need to work on my lassoing skills a little, but I did get the poor, icy fella. (You can really see the ice worked into his coat by enlarging the picture.)

Much to the momma cow's dismay, I carried the calf inside, placed him in our bath tub, and went to work on him with a hair dryer and an old towel. 

After awhile, and after some wide eyes of a little one wandering from bed to use the restroom, the calf was fluffed so dry you could see the brown in his undercoat. By this time, the temps had dropped away from the heavy, wet snow so I felt comfortable taking him out. As you will notice in the background, momma cow was quite anxious to get him back as well.

After a few more checks on other animals, I worked my way back inside, worked out of my farmer attire and back into my mommy attire, just in time to come to the aid of my under the weather boy in the house.

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Tools of My Trade

We spent 5 years without a lariat. After much chasing, cornering, tackling, etc, I decided it was time for Ethan to receive one for Christmas.  Although we definitely aren't cowboys yet, we have been able to get hold of many animals with much less effort this first month of owning one. This is one of those items that should have been a must when we started working with livestock!

4 comments:

Rita B Caldwell said...

I've had to save a little one several times as a farmers wife and it's such rewarding experience!! Congrats on saving the little one and glad mom took him back. Sometimes they don't! :(
Stay warm!!
Rita

KIM JACKSON said...

sweet story! Hopefully we are done w/those nasty temps (& viruses) in Iowa this winter! I gigged @ the thought of a child wandering 1/2 asleep! :)

Laura said...

Ugh, we just had the same type of virus (or the same one) go through our house. I am still coughing, but I think we are almost past it.

Super cute calf! Sounds like a lot of work, but worth it to make sure he was ok!

Hope everyone in your family are well now!

Mary P. said...

I grew up on a farm in Wyoming, and it was always thrilling when we would get up in the morning and find a tiny newborn lamb warming up in front of the stove. Usually happened several times each lambing season.

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