April 03, 2009

calm before the storm

Dramatic weather phenomena arise from the interactions between air systems of differing temperatures and moisture levels. Yesterday was unbelievably gorgeous - "shirtsleeve weather", folks around here might call it. Even though I know there are still plenty of winter days ahead, the sunshine and birdsong made it hard not to start fantasizing about planting a garden and other Spring-y things. Unfortunately, this tease of Spring weather was just a passing warm front, which has by now collided with a cold blast from the north. The repercussions will begin to fall by this evening - perhaps first as rain, turning to snow flurries as the sun sets, and likely building to a full-on blizzard with 40 mph gusts and up to 10 inches of snow before it's over.

The official 'due date' for the biggest bunch of cows is April 4th (tomorrow), so the timing of this blizzard is fairly inconvenient. There have already been two bad storms over the past month, but there were very few births during either and no babies lost to the weather. Later today all the cows will be lead home, to a lot near the new calving barn. This setup will put our minds at ease, as it will be easier to check and feed the cows. Plus, we'll be able to bring new babies and their mamas into the barn and out of the weather right away.

There was a bottle calf waiting for me when I finally got back to the ranch, Wednesday night. Her mama is too old to walk back to the barn, let alone make enough (or, it seems, any) milk. She's one of Jerry's cows, so dad's been calling her heifer calf Jerrilynn, naturally. Unfortunately, she didn't get colostrum before it was too late, so she's gotta make it though these first few weeks with a crippled immune system. Luckily for her, I've been missing the ranch these last months out in Portland and am happy to focus lots of special attention on her.

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