Monday, March 10, 2014

Calving Standard Time

We are neck deep into calving season right now and it is one of my favorite times of the year, going out each morning and looking for new calves is kind of like Christmas and Easter all rolled into one. Looking for the calves is just like hunting for Easter eggs and finding out what they look like is like opening Christmas presents. My only hope is that tagging them doesn’t end up like the Fourth of July with fireworks.
Calving season does have its own little quirks like not jinxing yourself by washing your chore clothes. If you do happen to wash them, you will be guaranteed to have some malady or catastrophe befall you and the next bovine you are working with. Most often those maladies and catastrophes involve yellow sticky calf poop or amniotic fluid. That is why I try to never wash mine during calving season, I prefer to stand my coveralls up in the corner and whistle to them to come to me each morning.
However, the quirkiest of all of the quirks during calving season is a little phenomenon I like to call calving standard time. I would guess that all of my fellow cattlemen know what I am talking about. It is that period of time during calving season that you lose all sense of what hour of the day or even what day of the week it is. Scheduling anything during this time of the year is speculative at best and downright fraudulent most of the time.
Each morning I try to walk out the door as soon as it is light enough to see. What time of the day is this? Well, it is a moving target most days between the days getting longer and the difference between cloudy and clear skies. I must also admit that there are those mornings that it is just a little harder to get going and the start might be delayed by another cup of coffee. Those mornings are few and far between because you usually pay for that delay somewhere down the line.
Once you are off and going the agenda for the day is often a blank piece of paper. Who knows when chores will be done and you will arrive back in the yard. Some days chores are done around 10:00 and you are free to accomplish one of the many things on the ever growing list of jobs that need to get done. I often find myself saying, “I’ll get it done after chores some morning.” I think that is just my code for, “I will get it done after calving season.” Then there are those mornings when you pull back into the barnyard look at the clock on the pickup and ask, “Is that the right time, is it really noon?”
The days you finish morning chores just in time to start evening chores are when you truly know that you have fallen into the Bermuda triangle known as calving standard time. Those are the days when you fall into the easy chair in the evening and realize that you accomplished nothing more than tending to the cow maternity ward that day. Often those days give you a rewarding feeling, moving from one new calf right to the next one. I like those days, but in the back of your mind you know that there are other days that will not be so great.
Most often those not-so-great days involve bad weather. Nothing can put the whammy on time like snow, mud, wind and cold, especially when they hit at the same time. Often those days are spent like a MASH triage, running from one disaster to the next. Those are the days when you fall into the easy chair and wonder why you didn’t pick an easier occupation like crash test dummy. Either way, after a couple of those days, you start to lose track of the day of the week. Do we go to church tomorrow? I think we just went two days ago, but that would have been Tuesday. Right?
Calving standard time has physical side effects too. Often I develop a rumpled, disheveled look complete with longer-than-usual hair and a beard. I have been asked do you grow the beard for protection from the elements. Nope, I grow the beard because I forgot to shave after the second day of calving season and I will shave after chores are done. I like to think of it as the wild rugged look, but my family tells me I look like I am living in a refrigerator box under an overpass.
Just like all of the other seasons, calving standard time will end and become a distant memory. I will once again be able to schedule doctor’s appointments, agree to meeting dates and times and maybe start to whittle down the list of things I am going to do when chores are done. Well, that is until we start the period known as daylight planting time.

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