Monday, March 24, 2014

The New (and improved) Heifer Lot

Another calving season is upon us.  Things are a little different this year than in years past.  Instead of the heifer lot where Dad and I have spent so many hours over the last 23 years, Matt and I built a new one at our place.  It is one of the greatest things we have ever done with time and money.

Dad broke his hip last June and things have changed a lot since then.  He wasn't able to help with any of the spring/summer work and he just wasn't up to doing much in the fall either.  That's ok.  I mean, he is almost 86 years old.  If he's tired and doesn't feel like doing something, that's more than ok. And Matt and I had planned to build a heifer lot here at our place anyway.  We just needed the time and "incentive" to do it.

We started out by putting in a little 3-sided building a couple of years ago.  It worked pretty nice for parking vehicles in during hail storms.  But it had always been with the intention of putting it to use as a calving barn.  And then last year, we bought continuous fence panels.  And they sat just waiting for us to get the time to start building.  We finally got in gear digging postholes in December, I think.  Right before the first big cold snap hit our area.  Several warm ups and well below zero days were to follow.  So we were glad we at least had our outside posts set and were hoping for enough warm weather to get it finished before calving actually started.  Finally, in February, it was do or die.  We either had to get it finished or admit defeat for another year.  Matt was pretty determined not to have to drive to Dad's every 2 hours (I think that had something to do with the fact that he does the night checks) so we got busy.  We put in windbreak panels and continuous fence.  We built pens.  We hung gates.  A lot of gates.  But our years of planning had finally come to fruition.  We had a heifer lot.

And it was none too soon.  The heifers were due to start any time after the 25th of February.  And that day started another of the cold snaps that we had.  The temperatures were well below zero for several days.  Fortunately, we did not have any calves during that time.  But we still needed to be checking them day and night, just in case.  Because there's a good chance a heifer would not save a calf when it is that cold. 

But when the little gals did start calving, it has been such a joy!  The pens we set up have worked perfectly.  Everything we have done works so well and our heifers are so nice and gentle, it has just been so fun to calve them out. (with the exception of lack of sleep on both our parts). 

I'm not one of those women who cares much about gifts or fancy things.  But build me a nice heifer lot....
Now that's another story.