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Posted 1/18/12 (Wed)


I remember when Al Gore warned us about global warming. Now it is trendier to call it “climate change.” And it is changing. Now, how much man contributes to the change can be a point of contention. But I am going to tell you things that I can really see.
One of my grandsons has a snake. A garter snake. He caught this young snake on the road last summer and decided to keep it for a pet. Last week, the first week of January, the snake shed its skin! Really! It shed its skin. Of course the heat lamp may have something to do with it.
And then one evening last week, as I relaxed in the living room, I saw the moon rising on the eastern horizon. A harvest moon! Big, bright, glowing orange, regular old harvest moon. Now, I’m a cowboy. Not a romantic writer of poetry. Horses can be beautiful. Ladies can be beautiful. Second-cutting alfalfa can be beautiful. A warm, gentle, three-day rain can be beautiful.  But the moon isn’t. But this one was. I just hope you saw it. And I can’t blame this on the heat lamp.
So I’m sitting there thinking. No snow. Snakes shedding skin. Harvest moon. Could it be that Al had it right? Geese going north in the evening! Water running down the creek. What the heck?
Then, to top things off, the next evening as I am doing chores, I noticed a heifer that is really close to calving. I mean really, really close to calving. The babies feet are sticking out! That is a really, really good sign that she is close. With the help of Doctor Shirley, I pulled the calf.
Now this was out of a heifer I had recently purchased. For a healthy sum of money. I don’t like early calving. I don’t like to get up at night for several nights in a row at 2 a.m. and walk out to the heifers. I like to buy heifers that have been ultra-sounded for a short-calving period. Like three days, or 10 days. But since these heifers were supposed to calve in March for 20 days, I thought that isn’t too bad. Shirley is home and can take that late night check. She goes back to sleep easier than I. I suppose that is the result of having a clear conscience. Something I haven’t had since the mid-1960s.
So I really don’t know what to tell you. To quote Clay Jenkinson’s great column, “Like the geese, I’m just confused!”
As of this writing, I have three new calves. All out of ultra-sounded March calving heifers! Oh, they are all right. But I’m sitting here this morning thinking this is going to be a long calving season. The March heifers have started calving. They are supposed to calve all of March. That makes January, February, and March. That is 90 days on this small group of heifers. And then our home-raised heifers start on April 1. Now I understand why they call it April Fool’s Day. I imagine they will calve until the middle of May. That makes four and a half months of calving heifers.
Do you know how many heifers I have? Twenty-one! Twenty-one! And I am going to be calving heifers for four and a half months!
I talked to the local vet about this yesterday. He was the one that checked these heifers. I explained how his mistake was costing me much sleep and many “happy hours.”  He simply asked if the three calves were alive. When I replied they were, he simply said, “I should be entitled to a bonus!” And you wonder why I drink!