Once again, calving season is upon us. Our seasons seem to be lasting longer and longer the last year or two. Not just calving, but sale season, hay season, planting season, harvest season……weren’t we supposed to have a break of some sort in there somewhere? We placed a ban on calving in January a few years back. Apparently that ban was lifted without my knowledge or consent. This is the 3rd week of January and we have already had 3 calves with 2 being born this week and several more due “any day now”.
We AI several of our cows. Some are AIed for purebred calves & some for club calves. All run with a clean up bull and we should finish calving in April. We have some embryo calves, some AI calves and some natural calves. All in all, there’s a good deal of money walking around the pastures each and every day. The greatest threat to our income statement comes not from theft but from death loss. Ten days ago it was sunny and 64 degrees. Seven days ago it was 36 degrees and we were gearing up for a winter storm (Winter storm Gia). A near 30 degree drop in 3 days and going from sunny to heavy clouds is hard on cattle – they need time to adjust, just like I do. Now we’re going from having 19 inches of snow on the ground last Sunday with a high of 30 degrees to rain/freezing rain the last two nights and Winter Storm Harper on its way this weekend with highs predicted in the 20’s. Not much time to adjust for them, is there? And that’s why we’re going to have Roundup Part 2 this weekend….possibly during the storm. The guys have found another half dozen or so cows that could calve “any day now”. We’ll get them sorted and to the house so they can have shelter in the calving shed and be brought into the barn if need be.
And this is where my adjustment period has me. Mike’s in Denver this week working for Lee Simmentals. This is the first year Chris isn’t living at home during spring calving. He’s still out every day doing chores and working on the farm. But he’s usually heading home by 6 pm. Therefore, for this week and part of next, I have the overnight calving checks all to myself. 10 pm, 2 pm, 6 am….roughly. Last night I didn’t think I’d make it awake until 10 pm so I bumped it all up an hour.
9 pm – All’s good. Cows are lounging in the calving shed on cornstalks. Abby, the farm dog, and I head back to the house to go to bed. I’m in bed by 9:30. By my calculations I should have plenty of time for 2 complete sleep cycles. My calculations must’ve been off. I didn’t fall asleep as quickly as I’d hoped.
1 am – The alarm sounds and this is when I realize I’m more tired than I thought. I tried to shut off the alarm on the bedside clock. I swear I hit every button possible and it kept alarming. By this point I’m awake enough to think, “Fine, I’ll just unplug it. It must be stuck.” Just what exactly was stuck, I’m not sure. But I was sure unplugging it would stop it. Imagine my sleep deprived stupor when it didn’t. It took me a full 30 seconds for my brain to wake up enough to process this. The alarm that I had set was on my phone. DUH…..I haven’t set an alarm on the bedside clock in probably 10 years. Why did I think I’d set it last night? I was so confused, but I was now awake. Off to check the cows, who by now were enjoying a midnight snack around the hay ring. Ok, girls, I need to go back to bed. See ya in a few. Back to the house, bathroom break, get a drink of water and snuggle back into bed……with my eyes wide open and my brain fully awake. CRUD! I read a while, prayed a while, played a game for a while. I tried to tire my brain back out to go back to sleep. Finally at 2:45 I was tired enough to go back to sleep.
5 am – Seriously, wasn’t I just out there? They can wait another 30 minutes. Reset phone alarm and drift in and out of sleepiness for 20 minutes before giving up. Check cows who are once again comfortably resting in the calving shed and beginning to be irritated with the crazy woman with the spotlight interrupting their night. Back to the house for a shower to warm up and clean up for work today.
6:30 am – Leave for work with a stop at the store on the way. Realize my tired self is one that should NOT be communicating much with people today. Pray that we have few calls at work and that the women at life group will understand tonight. Wondering if I can sneak in a nap on my lunch hour today.
This tiredness will not last forever. Just like the cows need time to adjust to the colder weather, I need time to adjust to less sleep. And just like it is when you have a new baby, I’ll forget it all by next calving season and be excited for the new babies on their way…..just maybe in February next year boys. Work with me here.