March 19, 2006

Getting ready

Yesterday was spent readying the corrals for the new calves who should be arriving shortly. Tom moved portable steel panels through the deep snow to make a chute/alley way from the big permanent pen, where the 10 hugely pregnant heifers are currently confined (to make sure they don't have their babies out in the snow-covered pastures, hidden away in the trees, where the newborns might freeze to death or fall victim to coyotes), to the big shop building where Tom houses machinery and tools the rest of the year.

We moved the tractor out, and Tom set up some more panels to make a small labor and delivery pen, where the mother can deliver, and we can help if necessary, in relative comfort out of the weather. I can't tell you how many three-o'clock-in-the-mornings I spent, before Tom built the shed, outside in the driving snow, covered with manure and blood and other assorted warm liquids, holding a cow's tail out of the way so that he could ease out a calf stuck at the hips.

Once the pen was set up, the kids and I got our pitchforks and filled it with fresh straw from a big round bale. Now we sit tight and wait for the calves to come.

By the time we got back to the house, everyone's cheeks seemed permanently pink, so we sat down with some hot chocolate and the recently dug-out copy of The Parent Trap with Hayley Mills.

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