12 March 2021 – cloudy and 34 – expecting a blizzard this weekend
The frigid cold in February was shortly followed by a whole week of mid to high 60s and we ate it up. We grilled out for supper, and after the river dried up the cows were even finding some little green sprouts to eat in the ditch.
The weather was so nice we got ambitious and worked outside hanging some gates to replace a wire gate leading into the pasture we call the “Maternity Ward.” We initially put up a wire gate there thinking we wouldn’t be using the gate that much, so why invest the money when a wiregate will do the trick? It just takes a little more effort to open and close. As so many things go on the ranch, you really don’t know how your operation is going to work until you are in the midst of said operation. We realized pretty quickly that when we start watching cows, especially heifers, for calving we will be opening and closing that maternity ward gate almost daily. It became a pain, especially when trying to do it solo in the mud. So we bit the bullet and hung parallel gates wide enough to get the farm equipment in and out.
The fun thing about hanging two gates is trying to get them to match up. We have become pretty proficient about getting a single gate up and level, but the parallel gates are more difficult. It also doesn’t help when the area where you’re hanging the gates is sloped. The challenge is to get the gates to meet up in the middle, be as close as possible to the same height so it doesn’t look sloppy (and drive Rancher Dave crazy) and also try to make them both level so they don’t swing one way or the other when opened.
As mentioned, we do get a bit of wind here from time to time. There is nothing more frustrating (or funny to watch) than trying to close two gates quickly behind cattle with the wind blowing them open while the gate closer is slipping around on the ice or in the mud trying to catch one and then the other to get them chained together. This is just one more possible event in the Ranching Olympics. I think we were able to get these gates pretty even and they don’t have much swing to them.
Spring is amazing here in the Black Hills. It always seems to unpack itself neatly, one event followed by the next. A big thaw, multiple flocks of geese squawking as they head north, the appearance of a blue bird or two. Just when you get lulled into a mindset of “we made it through winter, the worst is over” then you get punched right between the eyes with another crazy snow storm. We got about 6 inches of snow on Wednesday. It snowed for 24 hours and it was the wet, heavy stuff that makes it difficult to walk through and ensures you get a great arm workout when trying to shovel it or rake it off the roof.
Dave and I spent a lot of the next day occupied with snow removal, poop and shed clean-up, and once again refilling the firewood box. The cows seem angry at us. I’m convinced they think we decide the weather.
And today, while it is warm and amazingly not windy, the weather people are forecasting a massive winter storm this weekend including “FEET of SNOW” and “GUSTS over 40MPH”. Stupid groundhog, I swear if I see him we are going to have words.
That’s about it for the first part of March. As of today we are still hopeful no one decides to calve until the expected early April due dates. We hope this storm isn’t as bad as they are predicting, but as we always say, “We’ll get through it, or we won’t!” We’re moving cows back to the maternity ward tonight so they have access to shelter in the shed and we can get them into the barn if we have anyone trying to have an early baby. Hang on, ladies! Better weather is on the horizon. Right?
God Bless all you Hoten Holler Follerers and we hope you are healthy, happy, and hanging on to your liberties out there in the real world.