Dreams of easier life involve contraptionsEveryone has big dreams about what would make their life better. Similarly, my husband and I have a lot of little dreams like that.
By: Amy Kirk, Republic columnist
Everyone has big dreams about what would make their life better. Similarly, my husband and I have a lot of little dreams like that.
We dream up solutions to be more efficient at calving time because we’re sleep-deprived and exhausted. As our days and nights become less and less separated by sleep, what’s normally considered a simple task gradually requires more effort and energy to accomplish. Within a few weeks, we start to experience an energy crisis and the perpetual shortage of sleep builds an immunity to clear thinking, remembering and especially doing any laborious work. By daylight, we feel as if we’ve had an out-of-body party experience and wonder how our muscles got stiff and sore and our heads got foggy-minded. We know there’s a better life out there for us: one that’s less work, so we dream of ways to make our chores easier.
Somebody else dreamed up the tank heater idea to prevent water from freezing, but it can’t keep up in severe cold. My husband dreamed up a way to conserve that heat and avoid wasting water. He covered the tops and sides of our livestock tanks with leftover foam insulation and black rubber conveyor belting to maximize the insulation. This was a dream come true every day I went to see if any ice needed to be removed.
Repeatedly going through our calving pasture gate to check cows with a four-wheeler got old, mostly for me. One night, my husband decided we should drive through it instead. He built a gate in his sleep that a four-wheeler can drive over, and the gate springs back to an upright position but keeps cows from going through it.
Another year he dreamt up a more improved calving-pasture-checking system which enabled us to check cows from the toasty-warm cab of a little ranch pickup equipped with binoculars and a spotlight. He made a gate in a section of adjoining fence that connects to the calving pasture’s corner fence so we can check from the perimeter.
There’s more than one way to pack a calf to and from the barn, and my husband’s dreamt up several ways that are easier and safer around mother cows. One way is to use the 007-style calf packer my husband built onto the four-wheeler. It’s a luggagerack-like contraption that slides out of the back. Old seat belts carry the calf off the ground yet the cow can still smell her baby and follow. The homemade calf sled is another solution that’s pulled by a four-wheeler. It holds a calf upright and skids on the snow. Both solutions work well for my husband, but I can barely lift a calf, let alone lift high enough to load them. His latest idea was to take calves sledding, which was another dream come true for me.
After trying to push three resistant calves 300 feet to the calving pasture gate, my husband suggested getting an ice fishermen’s deep-sided sled for hauling calves out of the barn. We can pull three new calves at once in less time with less energy and aggravation.
At times, we’ve both had a recurring dream that would make all our work easier: getting out of the cow business. But we’ve lost too much sleep and put too much work, energy and fine-tuning into our system to start over.
Amy and her husband raise their two kids on a fourthgeneration cow/calf operation near Pringle. She blogs at ranchwifeslant.areavoices. com.