Winter calving a stressful time for ranchers

Wow, where did January disappear to? Weather-wise it was darn decent, compared to more easterly sections of our great nation.

Wow, where did January disappear to?

Weather-wise it was darn decent, almost balmy when compared to more easterly sections of our great nation.

Weather there, in many regions was vile in the extreme with blizzard-like snow storms, frigid temperatures and nasty biting winds that battered the land, causing many massive power failures, some that lasted days.

My youngest son calls Regina, Sask., home-base for now, as he works (electrician) in various locales on a days-in/days-out rotations-basis.

All of his work is outdoors (often high-in-the-sky) so the mother-in-me notes the weather/temperature each morning on the news for, where-ever-he-is.

Yikes — any complaints about winter that I voice should be cause for shame.

Imagine also the daily ordeal faced by ranchers in Saskatchewan as they endeavour to feed their livestock outdoors.

It certainly alters what Cariboo cattlemen may view as a challenge, alters focus and changes perspective, doesn’t it?

You bet, we’re wimps in comparison!

Calving has begun on some Cariboo ranches, generally on smaller outfits where one man (family) does everything.

Since winter calving is an aberration from Mother Nature’s natural cycle, it brings with it monumental amounts of labour since most of the birthing-miracle moves indoors.

With that move comes a bunch of extra chores; hauling/spreading of clean bedding, supplying feed, packing buckets of fresh drinking water (which the cow inevitably kicks over almost instantaneously), shovelling endless steaming piles of cow-poop and removing it (wheel-barrow) from the calving barn.

Additionally there are the all-important personal-checks, usually hourly (24/7) to observe the expectant-females.

The sum total of which generally adds up to a tired, cranky producer!

So, if you encounter that guy (gal) in the course of your day and they appear rude, or seem a little abrupt — please cut them a little slack.

For now you know that winter-calving in the Cariboo has that effect because, “While you were working, he was working, yet as you slumbered peacefully, he was still-on-the job, up on-the-hour, checking on his expecting-mamas.”

Liz Twan is a rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.