Today I know what Frank Pratt, a colorful cowboy neighbor, meant when he said “a cow-calf man is always in trouble.” We delayed weaning calves for various reasons, mostly because we wanted to do it on our lush stockpiled pastures after the herd returned from the mountains. But just after they arrived, November hit us with a wallop - wind, then snow, then sub-zero temperatures predicted (wind chills to –22). So in the end we weaned the calves in the corrals where we could tend them better. Weaning is a singular stress, but severe weather on top of that can be a serious health concern.
I woke up last night worried sick about the calves. Have they all found the water tank? Did everyone get something to eat? I was weary from being out in the wind all day and shoveling drifted snow out of the mangers ‘til dark. Still, I couldn’t sleep. At about 1:30 a.m. the wind started howling, rattling the lilac branches against the house. Nursing a sore throat, I finally got up and stoked the fire and fixed me a hot toddy.
This morning Mark told me to stay home, and took our kids, Seth, 19 and home from college for Thanksgiving, and Anna, our willing 17-year-old, to help him tend the calves. I guess they'll be all right.
This blogging thing has me stumped. It has to be the truth to have value. I write to tell the story - my story. But do I share the struggles? Ranching trials are never-ending. Sometimes I tell Mark I want a job at Burger King and an apartment down the street. No cows to feed. No weeds to spray. Not even a lawn to tend.
Oh, and it’s our twentieth wedding anniversary. We were supposed to go to some exotic locale overnight, but Mark says we’ll do it later. Perhaps. We did make it to town to exchange the tire chains (by an alternate route to avoid the worst roads) and bought some pink roses for me, shrimp for supper, and those little frozen éclairs that I love. We’ll celebrate with our kids and go to bed early.
|A few days before winter came|
|After the gather, before the gate is opened - patience|
|Kate turns them in the gate|