Wish I could say the snow is gone, sprouts are poking up from the ground, the grass is turning green, the ice is out on the river and the Canadian geese are back in droves, eating grain in the fields, and I could, on Sunday, but not Monday nor today. Sunday it was 72 degrees in the area. I was driving to Miles City in the forenoon and actually thought how dry it was. Monday we had about 4 or 5 inches of new snow on the ground and today the winds are expected to gust to 41 miles per hour. I am sure the drifting out in the country is serious.
Now, how do I explain this weather phenomena -- it is spring. Spring in Montana, on the prairies and, as one old-time rancher once told me, "It's calving season and you can't have calving season unless you are knee deep in mud or snow!" Well, there is some truth to that and is probably why calving has gradually been pushed back a few weeks as the decades have passed. The problem is, if you want to sell your calves in the fall, at a good weight, they have to have a certain period of time to grow and eat and put on weight. It is the law of the land. So you can't wait too long to get started.
When I was pastoring, our church organist, a rancher's wife, had occasions when calving, blowing and drifting snow, and harvesting kept her busy and everything else just had to take a back seat. It is hard work, the ranching life. This winter, with all the snow we had, cattle had to be fed hay. They ate up a lot, which was an added expense, and it took time to take the feed out and reach them wherever they were. I saw the big semi-loads of hay moving around the country all winter. The problem with this snow is that we had a little rain first so that meant the ground was frozen when the snow fell on top of it. The livestock can't get through to whatever grass is there.
Most ranchers bring their cattle in closer to the buildings when calving starts so they don't have to go out too far to check on them. Checking usually takes place several times a day and unfortunately during the night as well. Usually husbands and wives try to spell each other with the night rounds and fortunate the family that has a son or daughter and their family living on the place and sharing the work load. In 1964, in the middle of the calving season we had a terrific snowstorm in this area. There were reports of calves being born and then smothering in the snow almost immediately if someone couldn't get to them in a hurry. The calves are the ranchers' 'bread and butter'. It is a lot of hard work getting them to the auction ring in the fall. Weather reports say we have a week of snow and colder temperatures ahead of us, but must of the weather is supposed to be above zero.