SPRINGDALE, Mont. – Well, rumor has it Punxsutawney Phil came out of his hole and saw his shadow, indicating six more weeks of winter. With above average temperatures and below average snowfall, Jim Felton isn’t too upset about the pretentious proclamation of a groundhog. The wind this winter, however, has been a different story and Jim is beyond ready for it stop.
“We have had so much wind. It has just been a bearcat up here trying to grind hay,” Jim said during a phone update on Feb. 1.
Jim recalled one recent Friday when he had hired a guy with a tub grinder to grind up some round bales. The wind was whipping so bad that Jim estimated he was losing about 50 percent of his hay. Normally Jim has about two weeks’ worth of hay ground at a time, but given the windy circumstances he opted to just have enough hay ground up to get him through the weekend. The remainder, he decided, could be ground on a less costly day.
Surprisingly, Jim has noticed chopped hay in an undisturbed pile doesn’t hardly move, even during high winds. It’s almost like the piled hay creates a latticework and locks in place.
“I can go out when the wind is blowing 40 or 50 miles per hour and that hay isn’t blowing away. It only really moves when you start scooping feed out,” Jim has observed.
The hay grinder was able to return to the ranch on a calmer day and chomp through quite a bit of hay, which was great, considering the first week in February saw Jim completely focused on the bull sale. He decided to take advantage of the warm weather and replace about four old, rotted out railroad tie gate posts with more permanent pipe ones set in concrete.
Other last minute cleanup projects had Jim and his hired help jumping, as well. Sale pens were scraped, old hay was removed, the sale barn was organized and the shop where everyone eats lunch the day of the sale was swept out.
“That’s the good thing about having a bull sale, you’ve got to pick up the place about once a year anyways,” Jim chuckled.
Despite any last-minute worries, things were coming together really well for the sale, Jim admitted. The only minor scheduling conflict was the fact Super Bowl Sunday was the day before the sale. Normally the Sunday before the sale is when all the sale bulls get penned, but Jim was a bit flummoxed as he is a dyed-in-the-wool Kansas City Chiefs fan and there was no way he would be missing the game.
“That game starts at 4 p.m., so we are just going to have to be Johnny-on-the-spot sorting bulls and get started a little earlier,” Jim predicted.
Aside from the madness surrounding their annual bull sale, things on Felton Angus Ranch continue to march along. There are still cows and calves that need to be fed daily and Jim had a load of Felton sired fat calves that are ready to be hauled for processing.
The Prairie Star will have a full recap of the Felton’s annual bull sale in their next report.