It rained all day yesterday. Perfect weather to make lots of mud and get everything soaked through before the snow came today.
We went out this morning to find the cows who haven’t calved yet with their heads to the fence, backs to the driving wind, standing in the full brunt of it.
We had spent the last few days getting the pairs moved to a pen where the calves would be able to get shelter. Then they reinforced the shelter and made sure the wind would be blocked from the east. All of our shelter is designed to protect from north and west winds. When it comes from the east we are left wide open. The cows and calves were tucked away nice and warm and dry. Except for the couple of cows who had taken their calves out to the far side of the pen and left them there in the wind and the icy slush we were getting as the weather decided what it wanted to do for sure.
Since they were mostly good we focused on the cows.
Between the two of us we were able to push them around the corner that was all it would have taken for them to do on their own to find shelter. Once they were all around and through the gate we locked it behind them to keep them from leaving shelter again to go back and stand in the full force of the storm which they greatly preferred.
Then we went to get food. We found a pen we don’t usually use that was fairly sheltered with the wind from this direction and put some bales out. Then we had to convince the cows to move again. They were slightly more sheltered and didn’t want to move.
Once they were finally settled and everything fed I went to check on the calves whose moms had left them on the far side of the pen while my husband went to feed a couple of other bunches. When I walked out there one calf jumped up and ran back to where the cows were eating out of the wind. The other didn’t budge. I tried to get her to stand. She hung limp, deep into calf camouflage mode. Like a faun they will lay perfectly still counting on their stillness and lack of scent to save them from predators.
She may also have been slightly frozen.
After failing to convince her to stand I paused and looked around. The pen isn’t large, it’s one of the smaller ones. That still meant that the calf and I were a long ways from the shelter and other cows. The cow who tried to eat me the other day was inn there somewhere. The quickest rout to the cows was straight across the middle. Far from any fences I could climb to get away. None of the cows had any interest in us though. They were too busy eating to care about a calf freezing out here in the open.
I grabbed two hind legs and began to drag her. She was a small calf. The hooves still hadn’t fully shed their baby softness, she was probably one of the ones born yesterday. She was still more than I could carry. I drug her as far as I could then paused to breath and reassess. The distance to the cows didn’t look any less. There was no way I could get her that far. Against the guardrail fence another calf was laying there. The solid fence was plenty of shelter for a tiny calf. we made a detour.
Knowing there wasn’t as far to go I got both hind legs again and didn’t stop to rest until we got to the fence. The cows had been far away and uninterested. My back was to them as I pulled the calf along. Suddenly there were cows everywhere. Or it seemed like there were. Two or three had come running, the milled about calling for calves, sniffing and checking to make sure everything was alright. I jumped the fence because I’m chicken. Hopefully the calf’s mom would get her and take her back.
The cows and other calf left. I was alone again with this limp still calf. Back over the fence again I drug her right up against the guardrail and propped her up again. I stuck my finger in her mouth to get a quick temp check. Her tongue was cool but there was heat in there. Not good but it could be worse. I stood there trying to decide what I could do.
From behind me I heard a shout. Turning and squinting my eyes against the sleet it took me awhile to spot my husband across the corals in the pickup. He had finished his feeding and w anted to know what was going on. We yelled across the distance, neither having any idea what the other was saying. I’ve always said we commune on a higher plan though, he made it clear he was going to come over.
As I waited, back to the wind, I wrung the water out of my gloves. It was warm still, I was sweating under my coat, but the water was starting to soak through. My gloves were dripping, my legs were wet, my face soaked. The wet slushy snow was changing to solid flakes. The difference was apparent in that short little bit of time. It was getting rapidly worse.
It took awhile for him to get around, park the pickup, walk through the corrals. As he got to the fence though I could see that he was pulling the sled.
My knight in shining armor. I knew we communed on a higher plane. He knew exactly what was needed and had thought it through and grabbed the supplies we would need. what man. Together we loaded the calf on the sled. Of course she then decided she had to stand up. I walked beside holding her on as he drug sled and calf to the shelter of the old barn. He pulled her up into the cows, onto the warm straw, and deposited her there where hopefully her mom would get her. At least she would be warmer and off the mud until her mom decided to go looking.
It was time for us to go inside. Tie to warm up and dry out a little before the next check. From in here the wind is rattling the house and snow is coming down hard enough that we can barely see across the yard. At least we got the cows settled before it hit hard. Now if they actually stayed in the shelter.