This old saying reminds us that winter can sure be a struggle at times. Its even harder to get out of bed on these chilly, dark mornings just knowing that everything outside is cold and frozen. The weather the past few weeks has been trying on everyone across the state. I have seen more pictures of calves in pickup trucks and bathroom floors than I have the last several winters combined. Here in Kentucky we just aren't used to this much snow or temperatures that are below zero.
I must say that we have been lucky at ESF the past couple of weeks. We did not have any major damage caused by the extreme cold, and more importantly we did not lose any livestock! We were fortunate that we did not have any calves born during this stretch of bad weather. We only had one calf that was born the weekend before all the snow fell, but he was born to one of our good mamma cows and she took care of the little fellow and he made it through last week just fine. Here is the new pair coming up to water.
The only problem we encountered during the cold weather was two automatic waters froze up. But we simply opened the barn up so the cows could come inside and drink out of some open waterers. The cows weathered out the storm in the bottom of a ravine in the cover of some trees. They were out of the wind and there was open, flowing water in the creek so they didn't have to venture very far from safety other than to eat a bite of hay.
Owen County ended up getting around 10 inches of snow, enough to shut the school system down for the past 8 days. Quinn and Wyatt have been home so Greg has had plenty of help looking after the cows in the bad weather. Below, Quinn was in charge of unwrapping the hay bales.
Despite the bad weather this year, our cattle have stayed in good condition. Here are a couple pictures of the heifers we are developing.
We also witnessed this interesting event. Two different does came out of the woods to lick the salt along the edge of the road. They didn't seem too worried that they were being watched and simply meandered back into the woods when they were finished.
I hope that you have survived the past two weeks with minimal damage and loss. It has been a tough time to be a farmer, but it will get warmer soon. This weekend the calendar will rollover to March 1st so remember, spring is just around the corner, and oh, how sweet it will be!
On Christmas Day we had an unexpected present show up at the farm. A black cow that did not belong to us, decided to join our herd and help herself to some hay. The good thing was she did have an ear tag, the bad part was she wouldn’t let us get close enough to read it.
(Christmas cow is center of the picture with the orange tag)
After staying with our cows for a couple of weeks she did manage to calm down enough to allow us to read the number on the tag. I use the term “calm down” loosely as this girl didn’t like us in the field whether it be on foot, on horse, or in the truck. She appeared to be about a three year old heifer that had never had a calf, too crazy to let the bull breed her if I was guessing!
Now that we knew her tag number we started asking around to see if we could locate the owner of this rouge cow. The first couple weeks didn’t turn up much. She didn’t belong to any of the immediate neighbors and one said he saw her on his trail cam a couple of weeks back. We kept spreading the word as we didn’t have any plans to get this girl trapped in the barn any time soon.
The longer she stayed with our herd the calmer she became. She still didn’t love the idea of us in the field with her, but she would at least watch us without running away. And by this time Greg was able to locate the owner.
So the time came to get the herd up so that we could sort out the heifers and bring the cattle closer to the barn so we could watch them closer as they start calving around March 1st. Greg and the boys saddled up and we formulated a plan of attach as we knew there would only be one chance to get her into the barn, sorted, and loaded. I called the cattle from the pickup truck and coaxed them along with some feed, while the horses came up behind them pushing them on up to the barn.
The wild Christmas cow was in the middle of the herd and actually came into the barn without any trouble. We shut the gate and the barn doors behind her so she would not be tempted to jump out.
Now that we had them in the barn it was time to formulate a plan. We knew we would only have one chance at getting her loaded so we had to have everything ready. Here is Greg formulating the plan.
So the plan was to get the trailer, gates, tub, and alley way set for this one attempt at tricking this crazy cow to voluntarily load onto the trailer.
Everyone had their assigned tasks. Greg and Wyatt were to sort her and one of our calmer cows out and bring them down the alley way and into the tub. Once into and through the tub, Quinn was ready and waiting to slide the barn door behind her so she couldn’t turn back. And I was to shut and latch the trailer door once her back foot cleared the opening.
So the plan was set in motion. Greg and Wyatt got her and two others out into the alley way. She was getting really nervous at this point. They brought them into the tub slow and quietly. It was at this point that we used up all our luck for the week. They got the tub shut behind her and once she saw that the alley was the only way out she took it! She jetted down the alley sending the back stops clanging, she cleared the barn door which Quinn shut behind her, and she jumped onto the trailer like an old show heifer that had been doing it her whole life. I slammed the door just in time for her to hit the front of the trailer and spin around to realize she was now trapped. It was at this point that she finally went crazy. Spinning in circles and trying to kill anyone that happened to be standing with in eye sight of the trailer. Unfortunately this part happened so quickly that I was unable to get any pics of it.
We hauled her to the stockyards in Owenton. We got the alleyway set to put her in one of their stout pens in the back. Needless to say her disposition had not improved during the ride to town, and I would be surprised if she calmed down enough to eat for at least a couple of days.
When we left she was still in kill mode but she was in entrapped in the safety of the pen. I am just glad she isn't on our farm anymore. That was one Christmas present that I would just as soon not received!
Hello, my name is Dan Miller and I work for the Kentucky Beef Network. KBN took over operation of the Eden Shale Farm in April of 2013. We are using the 961 acre farm as a demonstration and learning center for beef cattle producers. This blog serves as a place to document daily farm activity and host discussions about the demonstrations being implemented. I hope you find this information useful and that you come visit us at Eden Shale Farm.