Today is an absolutely gorgeous March day. It is so great outside that I half way wish I had some lawn to mow. The truth is I have about a dozen phone calls to make and about 2 months worth of income to catch up on, not to mention a month of expenses. Which means, I bet I will be spending most of my afternoon indoors at the shop, at the computer.
But, at least our shop office has tons of windows where I can see the light of day!
This is my desk at the shop…notice the pipe cleaner hangy thing on the drawer..not sure what it is, but my nephew loved making it for me!
While I was working so dutifully at my desk I heard voices. So, naturally I took a peak out the window.
Reminded me that when the weather is nice and there isn’t a whole lot to do how much farmers like to visit. (This went on for about an hour, well at least an hour..)
One of the things on my to do list today is to check out our new cows.
At the end of last week we bought some new cows to add to our cow calf operation here at the farm. We bought third to fifth year cows. We call them that because it means they have had 3 to 5 years of experience in birthing babies, or have had 3 to 5 calves. Something we like around our farm, because it means less pulling of calves and less complications than if we bought first time heifers. Let me break down some terms for you:
Heifer: The cow has not had a baby yet, therefore we do not call her Cow, we call her Heifer
First Time Heifers: Heifers that are having their first calves, they are now earning the name Cow
Cow: Has had a baby, so being experienced she has earned the name “Cow”
Steers: These are boys that are no longer men, they are like your dogs and have been “neutered” or in ag terms castrated
Bulls: The big man on campus. He can breed the cows because he has all the right equipment.
Feeder Cattle: What we have in our feed lots. These are a mix of steers and heifers. This is mainly what you buy at the grocery store.
On a side note, why bulls and cows do not go into feed lots (The reality of your grocery store meat): Bulls have really really tough meat, so often they are ground into hamburger when their life cycle completes its course. A Cow’s main purpose is to keep breeding, and at the end of her life cycle they are most likely also ground into hamburger because their bodies have become to be considered tender meat. Steers and Heifers have the most tender ideal meat at around 18 months, which is when they are taken to be processed.
Now that I have all the important terms out of the way…back to the new cows we purchased last week.
Okay, maybe a few more important things…
Cows have a gestation period (or pregnancy) of about 9 months. Here at the farm our cows have an expected calving date (or ECD) of April 7th. Which means we hope to get past all the blizzards, snow, and slush. To have a good calving experience we work on rotations through the night amongst the six couples to check calves. T&M check at around 10 PM or 11 PM. J& I check at around 2 or 3 AM. And B&K check around 5 AM. During the day we often make many trips into the pasture to make sure everyone is doing okay. We give around the clock care to make sure our cows have a safe, healthy, and smooth birthing experience.
Now, these new cows…they are pretty much going to start calving any day now.
Did I mention we are getting a blizzard like Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday? I can almost guarantee and bet the farm that the day they start calving will be right around the middle of the blizzard.
That seems like how it goes for all farmers.
It always happens when you don’t want it to, prices on the market are always better yesterday, and it always rains for longer than one day during harvest.
Anyway, when calving its important to have a plan. For example, if the weather stays clear we will let these cows calve outside naturally. If the weather starts to act up we will pull the cows to an indoor shed so they can have their babies in a warmer and more controlled environment. The weather in South Dakota can prove detrimental to newborn calves if you aren’t keeping a close watch.
Well, we are ready come snow or not.
Following me uploading this picture..I said “Jason, what are the chances of a cow having twins?” Because let me tell you, she looks pretty ginormous in this picture. Jason says she probably just drank a whole lot of water. We shall see….