Thankful Thursday – It could have been worse

This wasn’t the post I intended to write today. These weren’t the pictures I hoped to share. But Mother Nature has a funny way of deciding what does and does not happen.

Last night, shortly before I was planning to go to bed, the TV warned of a storm that was heading towards our area. They stated that it had heavy rain, some hail and strong winds. I joked on Facebook that it better go around, because I wasn’t in the mood to deal with a storm.

She showed me.

The first storm hit about 10 p.m., and although at first seemed to not be that bad, it quickly changed its tune. We had a lot of hail, wind took down sections of fence and spun our calf shelter, killing one calf and injuring another.

Hail out our door last night, storm #1.

I thought that was it, and went to bed, knowing there wasn’t anything we could do during the night.

And then at 4 this morning, another storm came through…bringing more hail, more wind, but thankfully, no more destruction.

In total, we received 1.15″ of rain, and a solid coating of hail. The pictures speak more than I can:

Drift of hail left yet this morning.

More hail…

Our trailer was “hailed.” 😉

This calf shelter is supposed to protect calves, not hurt them. But the storm last night rotated this shelter to the north 90 degrees, killing one calf in the process.

WW – Spring work…in winter?

Yesterday was the first day of spring, but Boss Man got a jump start on spring work by fixing fence this weekend.

It’s hard to believe that it hit 80 degrees in “winter,” but you won’t find me complaining…well, at least not too loudly. 😉

Fixing fence that was destroyed in last summer's storm.

The early-spring weather has let us get a lot of catch-up work done.

It's amazing what can get done when the weather cooperates.

The cows are watching, making sure he's getting the fence tight enough. Well, maybe they're actually hoping he forgets a strand!

How are you preparing for spring?

Calf in a cast

What happens when a 1200-pound-plus cow steps on its newborn calf? Well, lets just say that the calf isn’t usually a winner. But in this case, the vet was called in and so far, things are looking good.

He may be wearing a cast, but it's not slowing him down!

That’s right, we have a calf in a cast. He’ll keep the cast on until the first week of April or so…and while he has his cast on, he’ll be treated to a special pen in the yard, and will spend his nights next to his mother in the barn.

Broken legs don’t happen often on the farm, but when they do, it’s important to have them heal as best as they can, so the calf can walk normally and be able to stand and regain use of the limb. And so far, this little guy seems to be doing great.

Walking around, checking out his surroundings.

So what does it cost to have a cast put on a calf? Our vet bill was right at $200. Plus a little extra time for a few weeks.

And it was a great teaching moment for the boys.

And those moments are priceless.


The beauty of calving

This weekend was absolutely wonderful. The weather could not have been more perfect…well, maybe a little less windy yesterday, but it was still very nice. And with nice weather came a little boom in our calving.

When the weather is nice, though, it’s a little easier. The mud isn’t fun to mess with, but thanks to the wind, it’s been drying pretty nicely.

Here’s some of my shots from the weekend. And I’ll have more on Wednesday! Enjoy!

Hmmm...My calving instincts aren't always right on, but I'm thinking something here is telling me that she needs to head to the barn.

Just another beautiful bovine.

Our lilacs are trying to tell us that it's spring.

The cousins, in a race of epic proportions!

Mom, can't I just nap here?

Thankful Thursday – Shelter

Our blizzard turned out to be not so much a snow event, as it was a wind event…but it still made me so very grateful. And after the storms in Illinois and elsewhere, I thought it would be appropriate today to give my thanks for shelter.

I'm thankful for shelter for our calves...and a Boss Man that cares for them!


The calves love playing in the fresh straw.


Snug as a bug in a rug.


I'm thankful for the equipment and technology that allows us to care for our animals, like this bale processor.


The bale processor (above) grinds up the corn stubble (left over corn stalks) that our farm baled at the end of harvest last year. It provides great bedding for our cows, as well as a treat or two, as they find leftover corn cobs and other goodies in the bedding.

It's kind of like an Easter egg hunt, in your bed.


And I’m grateful for our home, and for all of those that make it possible for us to provide shelter for our animals, our children and ourselves.

And as I give thanks for the shelter that we have, I offer prayers and condolences to those that lost their homes and their lives during this week’s storms.

WW – Winter Weather

It had to happen eventually, we all knew it was too good to last. I mean, how can anything that perfect last for too long, right?

No, I’m not talking about the latest in celebrity couple mishaps, I’m talking about winter. After a few month hiatus, she reared her ugly head last night…and we have a day off from school to show for it.

It wasn’t the storm of the century, or anything close to it, but it’s bad enough in its own rights. But I did take a few shots, so sit back in your toasty warm room and enjoy winter at its finest:

A pic as I was coming out of the house last night to check cows.


My footprints were disappearing fast behind me!


It's letting up, so the cows are coming out to eat.


Perhaps I shall call this one, "Snow White?"


If you can see, the problem is that it was warm yesterday, so it's not just snow, there's ice underneath.


Little ones out to eat their breakfast, all nice and dry.


My last hurdle to get through when checking cows this morning...a nice snowbank.

Wordless Wednesday – Cows

The cows, enjoying their straw bed on the fresh snow while waiting to calve.



When is it my turn?



Cows are curious (and photogenic) by nature.



Oh, that angle makes me look fat.



You can't see me, I'm hiding behind this weed.



We’re not quite half-way through calving season, but the last few days have been very, very busy. But the weather has been wonderful, and everything is going pretty smoothly so far.

If you look back at the ear tags, you’ll notice that not one of the close-ups have the same color. Wonder why? Find out here!

Thankful Thursday – Calves

It’s been a beautiful “winter” so far…and I won’t complain one bit about the lack of snow, the brown grass or the unseasonably warm weather.

On the crop side of things, a couple of well-timed spring rains will do just as much (if not more) than any snow cover would do…and as far as the cattle side goes, things are perfect.

The weather is warm enough that if a calf is born outside, it’s not the worst thing in the world, and yet it’s cool enough that the ground is frozen and we aren’t dealing with the mess that mud causes. Things have gone very well, and we haven’t lost a calf yet to weather-related issues. (I’m knocking on wood as I say that.)

Speaking of which, I thought I would share some pictures of our herd. I hope you enjoy:










Enjoy your Thursday!

Farm Friday – Calving Underway

We now have a whopping two calves on the ground. I know, I know, not much to get excited about, but we’ve been so blessed this year that I can’t help but smile.

Our lack of drastically cold temps has really helped out with feed supplies and the like. Why is that? Well, when the cattle don’t need to use up as much energy as they normally do in winter to stay warm, they eat less. And with the open winter we’ve had (meaning very little snow on the ground), the longer the cattle have been able to graze on our leftover corn stalks. It’s been a win-win all the way around.

Yesterday I grabbed a few shots of our heifers (cows that are having their first calf this spring) out behind the house. I haven’t been going out on any night checks yet, because I’ve been under the weather and hubby has been able to go out on checks and still get some rest. (We usually check the cows every 2-3 hours, around the clock. More often when it gets cold, like tonight.)

Some of the heifers, just hanging out behind the wind break, waiting.



Such pretty red things, eh?



I’m hoping to take the boys ice fishing this weekend. We went last Sunday and had a great time, even though I’ve been a bit down and out. They loved every minute of it! As soon as I get the pics uploaded from my mom’s camera, I’ll be sure to share them with you!

And so it begins

Calving season 2012 is underway, as a healthy bull calf was delivered this morning by Heifer No. 109.

New calf, just a few hours old.



With the weather the way it’s been, we have some pretty great conditions for calving. But I won’t lie to you, it’s better for the temps to stay below freezing. I must have hit my head, right? Actually, mud can be a real risk during calving, so it’s better for our little ones if we have hard, frozen ground to work with, rather than soft and soupy mud.

Plus, we’re used to dealing with cold temps for calving…it’s one of the reasons my husband breeds the cows when he does, so that they calve when the time is right for our operation. The mild winter just has us off our game a bit, but nothing like the first calf to bring you back to your senses!

Now we sort off the heifers (cows that will have their first calf this year) and keep them closer to home. And then the checks start, where we go out and check the cows for signs of calving every few hours…more often when it’s cold. Our goal is to get the calves in the barn before they are born, or shortly after.

Want to come along on a calf check? Check out this post from last year…and stay tuned for more!