This morning was our first winter storm and that meant a lot of work. Well, it meant a lot of work for Jennifer and the kids since I am currently on the physically unable to perform list to put it in NFL terms. Winter storms, especially during lambing season, take a lot of preparation before and even more work during.
Yesterday, Jennifer and the kids sorted the ewes by when they would lamb. How do we know when they will lamb. Early this fall our ram was fitted with a marking harness that leaves a paint mark on ewes when he breeds them. We keep track of when he marks the ewes. That way we know when they will lamb.
Utilizing this knowledge, Jennifer put the six ewes most likely to lamb in our new lambing barn. She made sure they had water, feed, that they were bedded down on straw and had a heat lamp to keep their newborn lambs warm. Having ewes in the lambing barn also means she needs to check them at regular intervals during the night.
The other ewes were split up in two groups depending on when they are due to lamb. That also meant rearranging feeders and water tanks. When that was done the water tanks for the cattle and horses needed to be filled in anticipation of the freezing temperatures. She made sure we had enough hay to get through the storm and made sure the feed truck had enough fuel to get through also. She came in after dark last night, very cold, dusty and tired.
Then this morning she and the kids woke up early and checked the ewes in the lambing barn. They then proceeded to fill all the hay feeders for the cattle, sheep and horses and gave all of them extra grain because of the cold, wet conditions. Extra time was spent checking the well-being of all our animals. Chores that normally take 30 minutes took two hours today.
This evening she and the kids returned outside to check the animals, fill water tanks and make sure everything is healthy and happy. This was in addition to the usual chores of make sure buckets of grain are ready for chores the next day and feed pans and bunks are in place for the morning. All of this led to a very exhausting "snow day" for her and the kids.
Sure, Jennifer would have liked to be inside warm and dry. I am quite sure she would have liked to sleep in this morning. I am also just as sure that she had other things she would have rather done. I am also just as certain the kids had other more fun things they wanted to do on their free day from school. However, our animals always come before our comfort. It doesn't matter what the weather conditions are, if everyone is healthy or what else is on our to-do list our livestock are our number 1 priority. This farm is truly a family farm and everyone pitches in.
My story is no different than any others around me, irregardless of the size of the farm or ranch, or the type, the livestock is always first to receive care. Farmers and ranchers put the care and comfort of their animals first, period. As you sit down to your meal tonight, remember that many dedicated farmers and ranchers spent countless hours in harsh conditions to bring that meal to you.