Oh Geeze, looks like another Minnesota winter has arrived at the farm. We tried to hold it off as long as we could, but it turns out we ran out of time. Needless to say this wet fall has made for a major delay in our "to do list". We are still trying to finish up fall work and some fall work will have to go undone. But winter prep also was left behind.
These last 2 days we have been dealing with frozen hoses and water pipes. If we had enough time, we would have "winterized" these items, but we were busy doing "fall" things. As a result we spent at least 30 minutes these last 2 days thawing out the hoses and pipes to make sure that the cows and heifers have adequate water. The cold weather makes for difficult starts for all of the tractors. Some tractors, critical to our daily operations couldn't be started today. The cold weather makes everything twice as difficult, and that's not fun when we are calving many cows.
Today we welcomed 3 new calves! 2 heifers and a bull calf. All of them healthy and happy. Because of the cold weather we had to work fast to get the calves dry and warm. Once they are warm, filling their stomachs with warm milk from their mother's (colostrum) is very important. All of our calves drink at least 1 gallon of colostrum in the first hours of life. The cooler temps and weather also make life more stressful after birth, so we make sure that each calf is vaccinated for any possible disease and feed additional milk during the day to ensure that they have adequate calories to stay warm. For some calves that are struggling, we will cover them in a calf blanket and/or use a heat lamp to warm them. Making sure that their mothers are inside and protected from the elements is also important. Cold air and wind chills can cause skin on cow's teats to freeze and crack. The cold weather also stresses the mother, so we make sure the 2 months before the birth that they consume enough calories and protein to grow a healthy calf as well as care for her needs. Nevertheless, cold weather makes for extra work, but we love what we do. Just, grateful for insulated coveralls, heavy sweatshirts, and stocking caps!!!