Thanksgiving weekend was absolutely beautiful, except for Saturday. Thursday, Friday and Sunday were sunny, with unseasonably warm temperatures and no wind. Saturday the wind blew. It blew in true South Dakota fashion. The radio said up to 60 mph gusts. It was one of those miserable windy, don’t want to go outside kind of days. After chores we didn’t venture out much.
I am a weekend chore warrior. Having an extra set of hands saves J a lot of steps and time. Roxie is great with the cattle and riding along, but she refuses to open gates.
The daily morning chores go something like this:
1. Feed barn cats and chickens.
2. Start tractors and let them warm up.
3. Gather calves. It is much easier to put feed out for the calves when they are locked up out of our way.
4. Next, we start filling bunks with feed. The calves eat out of used tractor tires that have been turned inside out. After J fills the bunks and I go behind him with a pitch fork and level off the hay so the calves don’t spill it on the ground.
5. The calves are fed ground hay and dried distillers grain. The hay is predominantly prairie hay with a few bales of alfalfa mixed in. We have the hay ground to increase palatability. Dried distillers are a by-product from ethanol production. Dried distillers are a highly digestible protein source and high energy feedstuff. The calves also get mineral mixed with their feed. Mineral for the calves is like me taking my daily multi-vitamin.
6. After all the feed is out the Rancher walks through the calves. The calves walk by him on their way out to eat and he checks ears, eyes, noses and manure. This is a great way to make sure all the calves are healthy and another reason we like to bring the group in everyday.
7. Friday we fed cake to one group of cows. Cake (also known as range cubes) is a high energy feed we use to supplement cattle while they are on winter grass. I like to call these cows the TLC group. In this bunch are the first calf heifers, second calvers and a few old cows. These gals have higher nutrition needs than the middle age cows.
8. Friday was cake day for the bulls too! One honk of the horn and they come a runnin.
Roxie stands guard. She gets pretty protective if a bull gets to close to the pickup or J.
As we make our wayaround the cattle we also check water. It is important that the livestock have plenty of fresh clean water and the waters are not froze up.
9. After chores I pick up the eggs and head in to make dinner. J, who knows? He always has some kind of project to work on when the weather is nice.