A Cowboy’s Faith: Rains bring in spring

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“Get ’em out of the mud.”

The statement has many connotations but been heard more and more as moisture continued coming down.

“It’s a tale of woes,” whoever’s relating their difficulty in caring for cattle in this “most unusual year,” comment added.

Certainly cattle in confinement even with highly coordinated drainage systems, there’s no relief from the mud.

Major cattle feeders report reduced gains from combination – sloppy pens, mud packed cattle backs, record cold, then too warm.

Problems expand for cow-calf operators with first calf heavy springer heifers behind the barn.

Even those with high maternal instinct can’t find a dry spot to birth. Drop the newborn in the wet mud, sometimes even a waterhole, because no alternative.

A certain mud reprieve comes when ground freezes overnight, but that’s less often, and the icy cold creates its own havoc.

Calving in grassland is generally satisfactory for mature mommas with more knowledge of caring for young, but not this year. Finding dry grass for birthing is difficult, more so with every additional sprinkle, let alone shower or downpour.

Hazards of water filled draws, fast running creeks, and ponds are always a haunt for newborns. Now, there’ve been more reports of finding babies in flooding streams, on ponds frozen tight, or stranded alive.

Those rescued sometimes don’t survive due to the hypothermia, while others have permanent freeze damage. Check any spring herd, at least some babies have ear, feet, leg and even tail loss from subzero chills.

Atop calving difficulties, it’s hard to get feed to the cattle wherever they are. Four-wheel- drive feed trucks not only tear up roads, pastures, everywhere driven, but getting stuck is high probability.

Thus, big tractors are brought into operation. Whatever the machine, wear and tear bring unceasing breakdowns.

Airing rants about wasted feedstuffs earlier, losses have increased, compounded by an already shy supply due to past drought.

“This is the worst winter in a long time,” several insisted. “It looks like the beginning of 1951,” one old timer remembered that heavy flooding year.

“Hope it dries up to fertilize and plant,” many wish. “Be enough moisture for crops to start,” neighbor added.

“Everybody’ll want a rain July Fourth,” more speculated. “At least spring officially arrived,” all is summarized.

Reminded of Deuteronomy 11:14: “He gives rain so farmers may gather fall grain.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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