26 Jan 2021 – Sunny and snow flurries, a chilly 7 degrees this morning…Brrrrrr

Well I guess winter has finally decided to deliver.  We have been going through a pretty good cold snap with continuous snow flurries and really low temperatures.  It was in the single digits last night and supposed to be the same tonight.  However, we are supposed to be in the high 40s by the end of the week!  South Dakota likes to change its mind.

Meanwhile, it is too blasted cold to do anything outside except feed and water cows. They don’t seem too unhappy though since they have been hanging out in the trees and the corral out of the wind. One of our cows, Valentine, has had a foot problem this week.  Rancher Dave and I were feeding the other night and noticed a bit of blood in the snow.  We followed the tracks and realized Valentine’s dew-claw (yes that’s the term) was broken and just hanging off of her foot.

You can see the toenail part separating and the pink underneath.

Poor girl, it looked like it hurt a bit but she really didn’t limp at all on the way to get fed.  We have a little cow-medicine kit and we keep some spray medicine for cuts and infections in that kit.  We gave her foot a couple of shots of antiseptic and decided to wait and see how she did.  Today, she seems fine although her entire dew-claw has fallen off.  It isn’t showing any signs of infection and she actually seems to be walking a bit better.   We will continue to shoot her with antiseptic unless she comes up looking like she has some additional problems.  It doesn’t help that she is seriously fat and pregnant so that is a lot of weight relying on her poor foot.

This is fat Valentine and you can see her front right foot is missing the rear digit on the hoof.

Not being expert cattle people, we rely on some of our neighbors and the vet for advice.  We have long since given up searching the internet because it usually leads only to more confusion and worry.  I was happy to hear from another local rancher that their advice was also to “keep an eye on it” and if she stopped eating, drinking, or walking at all then we should probably corral her off and try to give her some time to heal.  So far, so good.  She seems her normal hungry self and her foot looks okay, although she is missing a digit, it is no longer bleeding or seeping anything.  Adventures with cows.

A closer look shows the whole thing fell off.

Because we finally got a decent amount of snow, we decided to burn a slash pile.  Rancher Dave also has a new drone, and decided he wanted to make a movie about burning slash.  He wanted to put a can of flammable liquid in the pile and launch the drone to film from above.  At that point he wanted to shoot tracer rounds at the pile and blow it up.  (For the record, and being the daughter of the original Captain Caution, I did not wholeheartedly support this idea.)  

Dave lighting the slash pile from a ways away.

Unfortunately, the temperature was too low to launch the drone but Rancher Dave still wanted to shoot the burn pile.  I filmed him and to his chagrin, (and my relief) there was no giant explosion.  The tracer round lit the pile but it was fairly anticlimactic and it just started a slow burn.  I guess he just wanted to have some fun shooting before we sold all the guns and ammunition.

At least the Sheriff enjoyed the bonfire.

Although he was disappointed, he did get to use the drone a different day when it warmed up a bit.  Here’s a view from the Holler from above in case you find yourself flying over.

Just to be cautious, I texted the closest neighbors and told them we had a drone and said, “Please don’t shoot it down if it goes rogue!”  Most South Dakotans are well armed and don’t take too kindly to surveillance.

Today, we are staying warm inside by the stove.  I put a cider-braised pork roast in a dutch oven and have been cooking it all day while the stove simultaneously keeps the house warm.  And it is warm in here so it’s perfect for blogging.

The only other thing to report is that the elk have been especially active in the last few days. They are not making noise, as they do in the rut, but they are all over the Holler and the road.  I saw about 30 of them hanging out on our road when I went to the post office yesterday, and we have seen them quite a few mornings when we are out feeding cattle.  Sorry I didn’t get a picture, but the road was kinda icy and I was concentrating on that.

Winter chores

That’s about it from the Holler. Hang on to your liberties out there and stay warm.  Only two more full moons until spring and calving season!