It sure seemed like a Monday morning today, instead of Sunday morning. I should’ve guessed it would be a bad morning before I was even out of bed. I had such a hard time getting out of bed this morning. I was in one of those moods where I was wishing just once I could sleep in instead of feeding all those hungry heifers who were waiting for me. I pushed snooze several times so I was out the door almost a half hour late.
It was another cold morning (14 degrees), so I was cursing the weather and wondering why I had snow on the ground and so many people I follow on Twitter have green grass. I feed the first 60 heifers with no problems and was on to another 40 when the farmer finally made it outside. He stopped to tell me his dad was bringing me more calves and they hadn’t been fed yet. Another thing adding to my bad mood.
I moved on to start feeding hay in the veal barn (we don’t raise veal, but that’s what the barn was originally built for so the name has stuck). I had 40 calves on one side and the other side was where the new calves would be going. So much snow had been melting off the roof during the warm days, there was lots of ice building up around the barn. Of course the door is on the north side, so the snow and ice in front of it is very slow to melt. Last week I slipped in front of the door and cracked my head while I fell. This morning the door wouldn’t open far enough for me to squeeze in because of the ice. As I turned to go find something to break the ice with, I fell again. This time on my hands and knees. I was really in a bad mood now.
The farmer was still around, so he chipped the ice and helped me feed hay to the first 40 calves in the barn. We had a calf in the ally going to the squeeze chute, where she shouldn’t be. He helped me get her back in the pen and then he took off while I finished up in the veal barn. I was almost done when I heard him yelling for me. He saw a heifer out as he was leaving the yard and needed help getting her back in.
Generally this goes pretty smoothly, except when it’s really icy, like today. The heifer did not want to cross the frozen “river” to get back into her pen. On the second or third try she almost ran the farmer over. On the fourth or fifth try I slipped and fell trying to get in front of her. Of course I fell on a frozen “river” of melting snow and runoff from the pens. When my rear end hit the ice my hat flew off my head and I broke through the ice. I felt like a rodeo cowboy who’d just been thrown from a bull. I couldn’t stand up, because it was too slippery, so I scrambled on my hands and knees trying to get away from the heifer who was becoming frantic at this point.
We finally got her in the pen after several more tries. Luckily she didn’t fall on the ice. The farmer left for the other farm and I continued with chores. I still had most of the grain to feed and I had to push up feed for the older heifers. The longer I was outside the more I started to hurt. Driving the bobcat was even taxing. One of my forearms felt like it had no strength left at all. Not to mention my rear end and back hurting, plus one of my knees from the first fall.
To add insult to injury, my coveralls had gotten pretty wet when I broke through the ice and now the slop had soaked all the way through to my skin. I had a lot of layers on this morning and all were wet. While I was doing my walk through of the pens I could tell it had even soaked my underwear! Not very comfortable, especially when it’s that’s cold.
I finally made it back to the house and was happy to have a hot cup of coffee and dry pants. The only bright spots I could think of this morning was at least the sun was shining and my father-in-law only brought 20 calves instead of 40!