Everyone was snarky. The wind was gusting, the cattle were hungry and my fingers were frozen.
My gentlest cow, Lucy, swung her head viciously when I moved her from the feed bunker where she was devouring the hay I had just put out. Sunshine, a normally quiet cow, kicked my husband Bruce in the thigh as he walked behind her.
Every five minutes I jumped into the running truck to warm my fingers on the wind shield defroster. Lucy, her calf and Olaf where headed to a new home in Connecticut and we had to get them ready. We were supposed to leave at 8am from our farm in New Hampshire but had to wait for a final veterinary check and the health certificate we need to deliver cattle out of state. Our veterinarian, Christina, had tested Lucy and Olaf four days earlier for tuberculosis (TB) and brucellosis. We needed the test results but the UNH lab didn't open until 8:30am so we waited. It was still cold but now the herd was munching contently on hay and much happier. I was also happy to sit in the warm truck and wait.
When it's bitterly cold cattle need extra hay to keep warm. They burn a lot of energy to fight off the cold. Hay gives them energy. Weaned calves need more than hay to stay warm so we feed them alfalfa pellets and molasses. Molasses in their water gives the calves energy and the pellets give them protein, just what a weaned calf needs to thrive in the cold.
Christina, the vet, called at 8:30am to tell us the TB test was negative and that she was on her way to do the final check. By 9am, Christina was done. With health certificate in hand we loaded the animals in the stock trailer and were on the road to Connecticut.
After a three and a half hour drive we unloaded the cattle at their new home in New Hartford where it seemed positively balmy. The sun was out, the wind had died down and it was 20 degrees! I even stripped off two of my five layers of clothing. A heat wave until we returned to NH. Even without the wind, the weather in New Hampshire seemed arctic compared to Connecticut.
So now whenever I hear, “I'm going South for the winter,” I'm going to think that maybe that maybe means Connecticut. I wonder if further South, like in New Jersey, it's like the tropics. Do you think Trenton has palm trees?
For now our cattle enjoy extra hay and calves enjoy their molasses infused water. My fingers still freeze in the cold and I'm dreaming of “going South.” It's gotta be better, right?