We had about two feet of snow at the end of February, and last week it was over 40 degrees for several consecutive days, melting all but the tallest piles of snow. Then, on Saturday, it rained all day long. We were sitting on the couch on Sunday night, and I said to David, “Any ideas what I can blog about?” His response was “All I can think about is mud.”
To say it is muddy is an understatement. We do our best to keep everything clean and dry, but this time of year it’s nearly impossible. Every calf group has some type of shelter, a structure with a roof, to keep them dry, but our cows and calves eat outside. They have free access to the exterior of their shelters at all times. Because of this, despite our best efforts, they get muddy. They really don’t seem to mind, but boy they are a mess. And muddy cows and calves result in muddy farmers.
This weekend I bedded down all of the huts and groups. We use a bale shredder to bed down the milk cows, but the tractor won’t fit in our calf pens. Bedding down calves means bending over into buildings whose roofs are lower than your height and breaking apart and spreading out straw bales to give the calves something warm and dry to lay on.
In the end, the person doing this is generally a little sore and completely covered in straw. To give you a visual: I had my phone in a pocket on the inside of my vest, and I have a case that covers the charging port, and when I went to charge my phone, I had to remove a piece of straw from inside the closure over that port. I can’t explain how that happened. Bedding down calves isn’t anyone’s favorite job, but its important to keep things as clean as possible, and the calves are always appreciative.
Let me stop my complaining for a minute, though, because I’m not really complaining. Last year we went months without mud, and drought is far more difficult to deal with. So as the rain came down on Saturday, no one complained. We changed our wet clothes at noon and went back out and got our dry clothes wet without a word. We’re extremely thankful for the rain that will hopefully turn into ground moisture to help our crops and pastures grow so that our cows will have something to eat.
Because of last year’s drought, we’ve had to buy a lot more feed than normal. And because of last year’s drought, feed is hard to find and expensive. We hope to grow more feed ourselves this year and need to buy less next year. And we hope that what we do need to buy won’t cost quite so much. Given all that, bring on the mud.