Night Checks.

I hope everyone had a great LONG weekend! 

It was so nice to have three days in a row to be home, and just focus on helping Clint with calving.  The heifers are about a third of the way done, and the young cows are starting to crank up. 

Let's talk about night checks.  Everyone's doing them, right?!?  ;) 

At Double M, the guys try to split up the night checks, so there's at least a chance of someone getting a couple hours of sleep in a row.  Clint has the first two night checks, and then Jack has the early morning checks.  The heifers and young cows usually get fed between 4:00-6:00 pm and this is also when we do chores at the barn so everything gets a good looking over before we lose light.  Then if all is well, Clint usually checks again around 10:00 pm and then 1:00 am.   Jack takes over for the 4:00 am check, and the 6:00 am check.   Deana & I try to tag along with the guys, to open gates or help out if we can. 

I wish I wasn't, but I am much less grumpy about night checks if I don't have to work the next day.  I need to figure out a way to turn off the voice in my head that says "You have to work tomorrow", because everyone involved has to work the next day.

The best night checks are the ones where you drive out through the heavy pen and find everyone laying down and just hanging out.  Nothing is in labor, everything that has already calved is paired up, and no trouble is to be found.  And when you can find that twice - during both the 10:00 pm and 1:00 am checks - well that is pretty darn fantastic!  Sunday night was like that for us, and I sure enjoyed getting almost five hours of uninterrupted sleep. 

Of course, if something goes wrong - a cow needs to be brought to the barn, a calf needs to be pulled, or a newly born set of twins don't get enough colostrum - the night check gets lengthened out.   And let's be honest - this is usually when the {cranky} comes out. 

Last night was one of those nights - we went out about 1:30 am and all was well with the heifers, so we headed to the check the young cows.  Just as we were about done (and when your hope is really high that nothing will be wrong and you can go back to bed) we found a cow who'd broke her water but was up walking around.  This usually doesn't bode well, but we wanted to give her a chance so we left her alone for a half hour, set an alarm and took a quick snooze in the pickup.  When we woke up, she had two feet out but still wasn't laying down so we gave her another 15 minutes, took another snooze and hoped for the best.  3:00 am rolled around and still no calf on the ground - so we headed to the barn.  But the best part was during all of this, Lindsay and I were messaging each other on Facebook because we were both up supporting our husbands during night checks.  

Moral support, a good visit or a quick text saying "you got this" makes such a difference, and I am so thankful for our friendship and the support L1 provides.  All ranch wives should be as lucky as I am.

We got lucky, and the calf was alive as Clint pulled it. We tucked the pair into a pen before heading to the house for an hour of sleep before we headed to 7Up to AI cows. Maybe we bring too much to the barn, and maybe we're too cautious, but I think if you ask Clint he'd rather bring one in and make sure he's done everything he can to have a live calf hit the ground, rather than the opposite.  Bringing a cow to the barn creates more work - pens to clean, hand feeding & watering, etc. - but if we can pair out a healthy calf in a day or two, we think it's worth it. 

So we'll keep night checking, and I imagine that there'll be a few more trips to the barn in our future.  (Although we can hope for the best!)  If you're calving and taking on the night checks - know that I'm cheering you on!

- PS -
No pictures with this post.  I'm sure you can all imagine how tough it would be to take pictures in the middle of night, and especially when you're driving in a pickup through a bumpy field.  And let's not even think what a picture would look like when you're trying to convince a cow to go thru a gate when she has every intention of heading to the opposite end of the field!

- PPS -
There was a great post of a list of 25 things to have to be prepared for calving season on the Beef Daily blog today.  It's worth checking out here.


  1. I will not complain about getting up to do something so selfish as go to the gym. Thank you to (and L1) for being the foundation of America's cheeseburger love affair.

  2. .....cheeseburger love THAT is a slogan that the beef industry can tie to! :)


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