April 1, 2014



Grandpa had a word for days like this. He called them “rippers.” This morning we woke to 10 inches of snow, wind gusts around 40 mph, with more snow falling. It was a ripper.
Now, March came in like a lion, and it dang sure is leaving like a lion. We had a spell in the middle that wasn’t too bad and some of my friends were thinking the golf courses would be opening in March. I’m thinking let’s just open the clubhouse. That’s the main thing anyway.
I wrote last week about calving percentages and how ranchers can lose calves. I guess someone was listening because there are going to be some cold calves in the Dakotas and Minnesota the next day or two.
Now, I drive by some places that are set up to handle early calves. You see guys with big stacks of straw bales. You see guys with nice sheds that open for calves to go in. Then drive by our place. The cows hide behind the broke down caragana bush and the wormwood patches. Not real good. I remember years ago we were working on building a cattle-processing plant in the Dakotas. One of our mottos was “prior planning prevents poor performance.” I should have paid more attention.
Back when we were on the Four, I guess it was about this time of year. We were calving. It was the political season. It was snowing and blowing.
Now one of the quickest and surest ways to warm up a chilled calf is to throw him in a bathtub filled with very warm water. Now, I don’t want to boil him. Not right away anyhow, but warm him up quick. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But you have to try. Now they have hot boxes and calf huts with heaters. We had schnapps and a bathtub. Schnapps for me. Tub for the calf.
Anyway, a couple lady friends stopped to encourage our participation in the political process. I don’t remember now if they were seeking money or candidates, but that is beside the point.
It had been a cold wet couple days and we were a little behind. But we graciously stopped for coffee. After a half hour of coffee and conversation, one lady asked where the restroom was. “Right down the hall.” Well, we had forgotten that one calf that didn’t make it was still in the tub. Right in front of the toilet.
The lady let out a scream. I mean she really let out a scream. She came running back down the hall trying to pull her clothes up. “Do you know you have a dead cow in your bathtub,” she screamed.
“Of course we know,” I replied. “Would you care to stay for dinner? We’re having veal.”
Shirley got mad again. I could have married better.