The next busy season is here — calving.

And apparently, so is water main break season.

Of course, it was the same line that feeds the water troughs in the corrals where the cows are hanging out waiting to have calves.

So the guys rigged up a system of hoses from our spigot, that leaks, to the trough system, several hundred feet away.

At 2 a.m., I woke with a start to the rattle of front door.

Jared! Someone’s in our house! I whispered hoarsely.

Thankfully, it was his brother, shutting off the water to the spigot and ending the back flow of water into our basement, which was happening because the hoses froze.

Why go through calving so early when the weather is so bitter? So we’ll be finished with branding and moving cows before spring field work begins.

So far, about half of the 100 or so expected calves have arrived.

The process goes a little like this:

Wait. Wait. Wait. Go! Wait. Wait. Wait.

The cows are brought into a system of corrals near the calving barns in advance of their due dates (thanks to the artificial insemination process, there’s a general timeframe).

For days, there were no calves. Then a few. Then none. Then 10 in 10 hours.

Every few hours, sometimes fewer hours than others depending on how fast the wind is blowing and how frigid it is, someone walks through the corrals to see if any cows are either in the middle of labor or looking like they might be soon. Sometimes, a calf has been born in between checks and must be moved inside the calving barn to avoid frozen ears and have paperwork done.

In that case, the calf gets a sled ride while the mom anxiously follows to the barn, where they are placed in a  stall.

cowcalf
All the cows look like this, peeved to some degree. 

While in the barn, calves get their shots, weighed and ear tags.

Eventually, they go outside again, into a corral that encircles a barn with a heated area, which is nice on days like this one.

blowingsnowcow
Cows take shelter during a recent snow storm. It was hard to tell if the snow was coming from the sky or just blowing in the high wind. Around this country, snow rarely falls any other way than horizontally.

 

To this greenhorn, the whole process looks like madness.

Hey, animal that weighs hundreds of pounds and has no common sense, I’m going to take your calf. Keep your instincts in check if you would, please, and don’t slam me against the stall wall or run over me. Mmmmk? Thanks.

There have been some close calls, and I’m just mainly watching. But so far, so good. Somehow.

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