Six or so inches of the latest snow in southwest Wisconsin I can recall. April 14th sticks in my mind as some big snows, so this one beat it by a couple of weeks. It had been warm and dry previously. Some of our friends’ children were confused and got excited about Christmas coming!
All the trees, bushes, and plants that were already flowering took a beating, but my main concern was our animals. My parents practice spring calving, as we don’t have barns for our cattle and April and May is usually quite nice for calving.
Sunday morning we were out at 6 am on our ATVs seeing if any calves were too cold. We looked for any new ones, as any calf that is actively nursing often, is very tough and can take a great deal of cold. We had 3 new ones, but their mommas were experienced and managed to find some decent shelter in the woods out of the wind and snow and the calves were fine.
We weren’t as lucky a couple of weeks earlier in another rain and snowstorm. A heifer was lying near the creek. She didn’t seem too agitated, but she must have had a difficult delivery as she showed little concern for her calf which was lying in the cold water of the creek, just managing to keep its head out of the water.
I grabbed and put it on the back of the ATV and drove it to the barn. We stuck a feeding tube down its throat, (when calves are this cold they lose the ability to suck), and gave it a warm colostrum replacement. I rubbed its body with straw, but I realized it wouldn’t be warm enough to survive the night, so we took it to the basement and put it in warm water for a half hour or so until it started to revive. Then we towel dried and used a hair dryer to dry even more thoroughly and then left it in the basement overnight.
The next morning the calf was standing. We walked its mother into the corral and helped it nurse for the first time. After all that, momma and baby were fine and we turned them back out to pasture a couple of days later.
What a great story! I love the part about blow-drying the calf off. Now THAT’S artisnal beef!