Friday, February 4, 2011

Cold Morning Chores

The other day someone posted this on Facebook.

BREAKING NEWS: There will be no ranches closed due to the WEATHER.
Every rancher will be out in the blistery cold, blowing wind & snow tending to their livestock. They will be praying for machinery to work, non-frozen water pipes & the safety of their livestock. Say a prayer for them today so the prayerline may grow for our farmers & ...ranchers to be safe! Repost for those farmers and ranchers you know.

"No kidding" I thought to myself. We had a cold spell this last week and are extremely grateful that it is over.

Some people think that the life of a cowboy is in it's own way glamorous, picturesque, idyllic...

Such people have never been on a working ranch during adverse weather. What most people with these crazy ideals don't realize is that there is never a day off at a ranch or any operation that deals with animals. No vacations, no federal holidays, no snow days, no nothing...

Guess what? The animals still need to be taken care of first and foremost. And they can't do it by themselves, especially when the weather is bad. It's not that the animals are totally dependent on the human race, that is far from the truth. They would more than likely survive just fine if they were left to their own devices in their own habitats, but when you move them into a man-made habitat, a man must intervene to make sure that the man-made implements are in working order. For example, a water tank. If that is the cattle's only source of water, the man must be available for repairs, because a cow can not fix a broken tank heater.

People also forget that we are dealing with domesticated animals, bred for human use. If they are bred for our use, then we are responsible for their well-being. Plain and simple. That means constant care 24/7.

So I decided to follow Dan the Man around with the camera so you could get a small glimpse of a morning he had earlier this week when the temperature was -21 and the windchill was even colder, like -30 something. Actually the day I followed him with the camera was a little warmer... but the previous days were well below zero.

Whew, that took forever to load all those pictures, but the story would not be complete without them.

First chore, the first stock tank.
The day I had the camera, it was not frozen.
The previous day it had been so Danny had to break up the ice into chunks and then
take them out before he could fill the tank. We do have a water heater in this tank,
but when the weather gets below 0 degrees, it can't keep up.

Fill 'er up.
Brrrrr... it's cold out here!
Water looks like it is icing as fast as the tank is filling.

Pump booster wasn't working properly so a trip down into the well house was in order to flip
a switch that had tripped.

A few of the cows who had come into the corral to drink,
versus going down to the creek to drink.

Checking stock tank #2.
This one had also been frozen the previous days before.

Breaking up the bales that were set out for the calves.
This requires taking the strings (bale twine) off the bales and separating the bale.
Uhhh, oh ya, the strings are frozen to the ground and so is the hay.

Some of the calves enjoying their nice green hay.
The cattle burn more energy when it is cold out, so you need to feed them more
to help keep their energy up to help keep them warm.

If you don't supplement their feed during the cold spells, they will start to burn their fat
in order to keep warm. That is something we don't want them to do.

Pulling more twine.

Taking time for a little petting.

More twine pulling.

Off to the tractor, hope it starts. That's why we plug it in. Just like your vehicle.

It started!
This is a good thing!!

Back out of the tractor, it's just warming up.
We'll use it in a bit to feed the cattle.

Time to feed the chickens.
The feed is getting low so now we have to climb the ladder and haul the feed out of the box.

Taking the buckets down.

Hauling the buckets full of feed to the egg layers' coop.

At the coop.
Knock, knock...
Pizza, er, feed delivery for Gertrude and the girls!

Anyone want to go outside for a little fresh air?
Opening the chicken door.

Filling the feeder.

Yum, Yum!

Some of the chickens have already been busy.
Happy hens = lots of eggs.
That is why we have a fully insulated coop complete with heat and lights on a timer.

Water boy...
Faucet closest to the coop is frozen.

Faucet furthest from the coop is not frozen.

Back to the coop.

Still heading back, trying not to slosh water every where.

STILL headed back.

Putting the lid on the water.

Not sure they want to venture out.

Thinking about leaving the coop, but not for very long!

Back to the tractor which is warmed-up now.

Getting a bale for the cows.

Opening the gates to the pasture.

Be nice to have electric gates that would open with a remote so you don't have to crawl
in and out of the tractor so much.

Actually, the gates work just fine when the wife gets out of the tractor to open them!
But I was busy with the camera, hee, hee!

Back in the tractor.

Probably should wash the window when the weather gets nice.
Mud on the windshield from the previous week when the temps were into the high 50's!

That's me taking a picture of me taking a picture!

Breaking the bale open.

Cows always want to help.

Danny takes time to pet Mrs. Cupcake.

Someone, can't tell who, tossing the hay around to get to the middle of the bale
where all the yummy alfalfa leaves are hiding.

Murphy Moo enjoying the hay.

This little girl (#964) here in the foreground is Murphy's calf from 2009,
behind her is her little brother (#073) that was born this year.
You sure have cute children Murphy!

Fixing some electric fence.

More fence tending.

Time to tend to the house water problem.
Frozen pipes.

Danny loves crawling around under the house.

Crawling further back...

You back there Danny???

If I zoom in I guess I can still see you.

Animals taken care of... check.
Water taken care of... check.
Hot tea to warm up... check.
Daddy's girl on daddy's lap... check.

How many more days until Spring?

At least we are not calving during this weather like some people are!!!


  1. All too familiar! At least everything went according to schedule while you were taking pictures! Usually all kinds of unexpected stuff happens when it is miserable outside and you don't get done with it all until after dark! At least that's the way it almost always went with us.

  2. I saw some calves this week, and I was like whaaaa? But then someone explained to me that farmers with cattle tend to calve them earlier to get that out of the way before spring planting.

    Any evidence of a critter under the house?

    My favorite picture, other than the Dan-the-Man-with-tea-and-cat is the "do I really want to go out there?" chickens.