Sunday, April 3, 2016

Spring Signage

Spring is here in a big way. I pruned the chokecherries and cleaned out the front flower bed today. It was 60 degrees in the shade by noon. Mark is still doctoring a few calves and eyeing the ditches to get ready for the irrigation season. The Slough is due to start running water tomorrow. So soon?

We have a strange phenomenon this spring – no tumbleweeds. They usually blow against the fences and into the ditches during spring winds. They’re a real nuisance, clogging waterways, filling open sheds and covering fences. If nothing else the piles are unsightly, so we gather them together and burn every spring. For some strange reason they’re absent this year. What circumstance of weather kept their numbers down? Did weeks of heavy snowpack flatten them? 

About ten years ago we had a particularly bad year that we named, “the year of the tumbleweed.” The weeds filled the alleyway in the corrals and rolled down the lane into the yard blocking the driveway. We manned pitchforks and worked as a family to get them gathered and burned. But tumbleweeds aren’t the worst thing. Bare ground is. And the weeds do a great job of covering bare spots, grow with little moisture and provide seeds for songbirds and cover for all kinds of varmints. 

We’re on the downhill side of calving. Yesterday Mark was surveying the heifers out our picture window with the binoculars. At one point he abruptly put down the glasses and headed out the door. He doesn’t often leave in such a hurry, so I was anxious to hear what had happened. When he returned, he explained that he was watching a heifer calve and saw the calf plop to the ground, just over a rise and out of his view. He saw the cow looking back at her calf and, as he said it, “giving him the hairy eyeball.” A new mother doesn’t stand and look at her baby curiously. Normal behavior is the anxious lowering of her head, sniffing and licking excitedly. Mark knew something was wrong. Sure enough when he arrived on the 4-wheeler, he found the calf folded in half, making snuffling noises. He flopped him upright so he could get a breath and at that moment the mother’s instincts kicked in and she started tending her calf.

It reminds me of the admonishment Mark’s grandpa used to tell us. “Think,” he would say. “The signs are there, you just need to read them.” 

the preemie that was in the barn, still friendly and wanting a scratch

No comments:

Post a Comment