All right, so we’re all fed up with winter and the snow. I’m even getting fed up with everyone complaining about it. It’s Pennsylvania. It’s February. It’s going to snow.
But as I sit in my nicely heated home writing this, it’s snowing 1-2 inches per hour outside – and it’s not supposed to stop until around. Oh yay…
Yesterday the staff at Lancaster Farming scrambled to get the paper put together a day early in preparation for this mess. After a long day in the office, I was looking forward to sleeping in this morning. My son had other ideas –and he’s wide awake.
Next thing I know, my dad was already coming in from the barn. Unfortunately for him, he’s come down with a nasty stomach bug and has now been in bed for the last three hours. But before burying himself under blankets, he informed me that he was unable to get all of our show heifers fed.
So out I went into the blizzard. In order to feed two pens of older heifers, I had to shovel out the 4 inches of snow that had accumulated in their feed troughs. Otherwise, their straw-bedded pens are more than adequate accommodations to ride out the storm.
In fact, there are a few heifers that like standing in the snow and catching snowflakes on their tongues – just like a lot of us did as children.
Two groups of younger calves are in another room of the barn that has a bunch of windows around the top of the wall. The location of the room and windows is typically never an issue, but the snow and wind are coming from the north and east today, meaning the snow is blowing in on the calves. My luck couldn’t have been much better this morning because I quickly found pieces of cardboard that perfectly fit in the windows to block the elements.
The hardest part of my morning was coming to the realization that a young Jersey calf might not survive this storm. Her joints are basically frozen and she’s struggling to move – despite having high spirits and eating like a horse.
Before the storm started yesterday, we filled her hutch with straw and she’s been wearing a jacket since birth. My dad also put a heating lamp in her hutch. Snow started blowing in her door too, so I found a piece of rubber flooring to lay across it.
I sat with her a few minutes this morning before the warm house we created for her started to overheat me in my layers of clothing. We’ve done all we can do at this point, and now we just have to pray that our efforts will keep baby Romance with us.
Farming is never an easy life, and winter’s nastiness doesn’t make it any better. Unfortunately, death is also part of life, but I hope this time we were able to avoid the inevitable a little while longer.
~ Jessica Rose Spangler, market editor