ROY, Mont. – It seems that the snow may have come early in central Montana, but the nearly 50-degree temperatures that were experienced by the region around the start of the January melted a good portion of it away. The snow turned to mud, and now a layer of ice has developed.
They say in that neck of the woods, if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it will change.
“We are supposed to get a bunch of snow tonight and tomorrow,” Katlyn Murnion said on Jan. 6.
The snow, of course, holds moisture, but fresh snow on top of a layer of ice can make things treacherous. Katlyn hasn’t been able to ride her colts as much as she would like because of the ground conditions.
“My colts don’t have sharp shoes on and it’s a bit too slick out to be riding them,” she says.
Sharp shoes are fairly self-explanatory, with little “knobs” welded to the bottom of a horse’s shoe to give them more traction over ice and snow. Sharp shoes are a God-send in crummy weather, but they are also very expensive to have put on a horse, usually about $150 for a set. Katlyn has three colts she is riding now, and putting sharp shoes on them just isn’t financially wise.
Luckily, Katlyn has a couple very broke horses that are a little surer-footed that she can night calve on when she starts her new job on Jan. 20. Katlyn will be in charge of watching some 200 AI bred heifers from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“I keep hoping the weather will stay nice like it is now,” she stated.
Like many ranch families across Montana, its not necessarily that the Murnions are busy, but there is a certain steadiness to feeding cows every day. The repetition of such a simple, yet important task, brings about its own sense of exhaustion.
In addition to feeding every day, Katlyn and her younger sister, Angie, have been working hard to keep up on doctoring the calves. An issue with hay chaff poking the eyes of the calves and causing irritation has kept Katlyn and Angie on their toes, but a shot of Liquamycin and an eye patch usually sets the calves well on their way to healing. Sometimes, Angie says, they will sprinkle an antibiotic powder in the bad eye if it is deemed necessary.
“I had some friends out at the ranch the other day and they said we had pirate cows,” Angie laughs.
Katlyn and Angie, much like their parents, Lori and Rex, are always down for a good laugh. Having a sense of humor and a healthy helping of patience are two personality traits that are required of any agriculturalist. Katlyn and Angie fully realize that, even in their young age.
The mild winter, thus far, has unfortunately been accompanied by some swings in the daily temperature. These fluctuations have caused a few cases of pneumonia to pop up in the Murnion calves, as well.
The Murnion sisters know cattle and they know how to doctor them properly. For respiratory issues, a shot of NuFlor is initially given. If that drug doesn’t do the trick, Katlyn reports that a blast of Draxxin usually knocks the illness.
A break in the normal, daily ranch routine came when Rex’s niece’s daughter came out to the ranch over her Christmas break from school to pick out a little milk cow calf for a 4-H project. This will be the little girl’s first animal in 4-H and she is very, very excited for the new addition to her herd. The duo will show this coming summer at the fair in Miles City and the whole Murnion gang plans to attend the show and cheer them on.
Family has always been top priority for the Murnions, so they were happy to help spark a passion for agriculture in the upcoming generation.