My father-in-law recorded -31˚ last night. We skated by with only -17˚. Shows what living closer to the creek will do for you in winter! As a result, we kept a closer eye on the heifers… they can go at any time, although they should wait just a bit longer! I was ready to crawl in bed at midnight, when Vernon asked if I’d go check them…
It wasn’t one of my more enthusiastic responses.
But I went back out and put my warm jeans on, and warm coat, and hat… and I grabbed a couple of dogs to keep me company under the crisp stars.
My car was reading -17˚ and it dropped as I drove the 4 miles up the road. I had the spotlight in hand as I parked next to the corral. Dally and Eden jumped out… whuffing at new scents. Eden hasn’t ever done this before, and she really wanted to follow me into the corral. The heifers were bedded down, crystals frosting their black backs… You can’t walk through them this way… They’re too many in a confined space and if they stand up, you can better judge any birthing signs! Of course, they didn’t want to move, their little spots on the ground were heated up… so I had to encourage them with a “c’mon, girls, move, girls, let me by, girls” sing song. I hate to roust them out to have them re-rousted in two more hours… but it will be the difference in saving a calf’s life or not… so roust them I do.
I hadn’t grabbed my camera… perhaps my brain doesn’t work as well at midnight… so here’s your mental image…
Headlights peering between the wide white boards of the corral. Breath and backs of the heifers steaming up a fog. Stretching white backs as the girls stand for inspection, falling frost lands in the dark space that is the ground. A cough. A swishing tail. Cow farts. The sucking sound from straw and mud and manure as they slowly shift positions, letting me walk behind each one looking for slime, or bubbles, or hooves to betray a birth in process. I circle them slowly, shining lights on cow tails. A small dog leans into the opening between boards with a look of concern. I REALLY shouldn’t be walking out there among the heifers like that! I tell her to be “Easy. Stay out. Good girl.”
Before I’m done, my hands are frozen, my cotton gloves are pitiful help against this cold. Everything looks good.
At 1 am I slip into bed. Chore done. Brandon will be there at 2. Daniel before 6. No calf will be born this night.