SPRINGDALE, Mont. – Bitter cold temperatures, with strong wind chills, have been the story in much of the state over the past couple of weeks.
“The last couple of weeks we have been hit hard by the weather,” said Sophi Davis, who works with her husband, Taylor, at Lone Star Land and Cattle Co. ranch.
Taylor manages the ranch and its Angus-influenced commercial herd, while Sophi manages the ranch owners’ homes and horses, and helps Taylor out.
“We received almost three feet of snow, quickly followed by harsh below zero temperatures.”
In fact, temperatures dipped to 40 degrees below zero with the wind chill for the first week in March.
However, the sun came out on March 5 in the afternoon.
“Today the sun is out and the wind is blowing, causing huge drifts,” she said. “It is cold, but there is something uplifting about sunshine and blue skies.”
Yet, keeping the cows fed in these freezing cold temperatures can be challenging.
“Our crew has been working hard to keep the cows fed and water open during this cold weather, as well as plowing snow and laying down lots of bedding,” Sophi said. “Our new guy has been doing a great job taking care of the heifers and their calves.”
The Davises brought their cows home from the Hot Creek last Thursday during a break in the weather.
“Taylor and our daughter, Ella, led in the tractor and feeder loaded with hay, plowing a trail for the cows,” she said. “Hunter, our son, and I followed in the chained up pickup with a special, very cold passenger - our first calf of the season.”
The kids are quickly learning what happens at the ranch in cold weather and how calves need to get warm as soon as possible.
Calving has officially started at the ranch.
“In past years, the ranch has occasionally hired night calving help but this year, the guys plus me are the calving crew,” Sophi said.
Sophi bundles up the kids to check the cows every couple of hours during the day and Taylor checks cows at night.
After feeding the cows, Taylor will usually help one of the guys, or help move snow or catch up on his office work.
“Every few days, I take a night to check cows, so that Taylor can get some decent sleep,” she said. “The snow has definitely added a wrench into our plan but we need the moisture. We could do without the cold temps but we are blessed and doing well.”
The Davises believe in not interfering with the cows while calving.
“If the calf is doing good, licked off and up, trying to suck, we will leave him with his mama in the pasture, especially if she had him in a good spot,” Sophi said.
However if it is cold and the calf is acting a little sluggish, the Davises bring the pair in, trying to warm the calf and getting him to nurse to get that good colostrum.
“If we’re worried he is going to miss the colostrum window, then we will give him a bottle of colostrum and a warm up stay in our heated vet room,” she added.
Because of the cold temperatures, the Davis family has basically been snowed in for the last two weeks.
“It has been wonderful but we are all starting to get cabin fever,” Sophi said. “The local schools had a snow day, an event that hasn’t happened in decades. Ella and Hunter have been awesome at sports, getting dressed up all cozy-like, climbing in the cow checking pickup with me, holding on while I try not to get the pickup stuck. When we get back in the house, we eat, do activities, read books and watch movies.”
Sophi said she “loves calving season.”
To her, it feels like a “new beginning of the year and it helps remind me that before long we will be watching these calves on greening pastures, bucking and playing with their tails up in the air.”