Okay, I just can’t help myself. I’ve got to post one more blog about the weather. I’ve always made fun of people who obsess about the weather, and yet my main blog-worthy topic for the last several months has been, you guessed it, the weather.
This time I just want to report a pretty happy ending: I think we’ve survived The Terrible Winter of ’18. Winter finally departed our little corner of the world a little over a week ago, and of course it went out with a bang — er, a big flood. In my last post I reported that the intermittent creeks weren’t running with melted snow yet:
And then, about 10 days ago, the creeks started to run:
(This is Muggins Creek, after which our baby boy Muggins was named.)
The good thing about this spring runoff is that the water (melted snow) ran because it couldn’t soak in. The soil around these parts is totally saturated. Like, couldn’t hold any more water. And so, as temperatures started to warm, the excess moisture we received this winter just rushed into coulees and down to creeks that raced on to the Yellowstone River. It happens to some extent most years, but this year was a big one.
Below, a few pics I got on the day of the highest water. I took these just about a quarter mile from our house, which thankfully is on higher ground:
Farm fields deluged.
Waste ditches overflowing.
Gravel roads carved by flowing water.
There goes our big winter — headed right for the river!
Phew. Good riddance. Though I hate to complain about moisture, now Mother Nature can get around to the business of drying out and growing grass. This novel warmer weather we’re experiencing now has made it so nice to be out and about — for both me and the kids.
I think this pic, below, sums up our spring very well — for a while there, while the guys were in the middle of the calving-600-heifers-in-the-half-section-up-the-hill mess (they’ve since, thankfully, been able to trail the heavy heifers out to the cow camps where they usually calve), the only way to transport young pairs to and from the makeshift “calving shed” they set up here at the feedlot… was in the horse trailer, pulled by the tractor!
(Most of us who work here at the PV dream of plowing the feedlot under. As in, couldn’t the PV just be a ranch without a feedlot? This particular feedlot is in a really bad spot and doesn’t drain well, which makes a lot of extra work for the crew. Alas, none of us get to call the shot that would terminate the feedlot… so it’s here to stay as far as we can tell.)
The flood eventually receded and left behind little tell-tale signs of true spring:
Green grass! (Picnic time!)
These days the guys have been working at (finally) getting cows moved into their calving pastures, though in actuality about half the PV cows have already calved. And though spring is probably (dare I say it?!) finally here, area ranches will pay the price of a long, hard winter for months to come. Day after day of cold and snow weathered from December ’til March will take their toll on an operation year-round. Just the other day Beau came home discouraged from a day of moving cows; he told me about one cow that had calved, then prolapsed, and then in her weakness ended up with her back downhill and her feet uphill. Cows are surprisingly fragile creatures; one will hardly ever recover from time spent with her head lower than her feet. Two others, he said, were bogged down in mud — bogged down on plain ol’ hillsides, not anywhere near open water. With no hope of saving any of them (except maybe a helicopter?), he had to cut the throats of all three cows — just to put them out of their misery. Sigh. He was thoroughly spent, emotionally as well as physically, by the end of that day.
So though spring is come, The Terrible Winter of ’18 will be making us pay for a while yet. Just yesterday it snowed again —
— but it wasn’t a winter snow. It was a spring snow! The green grass showing under the white stuff is what’s giving us hope now. And…
“Hope is a necessity where I come from.” — Russell Crowe in The Water Diviner
© Tami Blake