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Night Check

Written by Jennifer Womack
I recently made my first middle-of-the-night trek to the barn to check the heifers. Given the blizzard and the fact that it’s early in the season, I bundled up. Carhartts, a hat, gloves and my muck boots. I even took the time to grab my scarf. My winter attire is still fairly clean and I don’t yet look like we’re calving.
    Our brand new spotlight, which doubles as a rechargeable flashlight, was on the dryer so I opened the packaging and glanced at the directions. “Do not use indoors.” I couldn’t help but wonder about the story behind these words of wisdom. I made my rounds, didn’t find anything too terribly exciting and was back in the house in short order. Despite my early-in-the-season energy, I resisted the urge to use the spotlight indoors.
    Two weeks from now I’ll be up at 2 a.m., groggy and repeating the routine. I’ll forgo half of my winter clothes and grab Chris’s coat and boots, since they’re a little handier. Stumbling around, I’ll probably engage the trigger on the spotlight, violating the “don’t use indoors” rule before heading to the barn.
    By mid-March I’ll just make the trek in my robe or whatever happens to be by the back door. Give it a month and I’ll just throw Chris an elbow and tell him it’s his turn. He’ll be so groggy he won’t remember who did the last check and whose turn it is now.
    Late in calving season 2011, Chris and I woke up one morning in a panic that we’d missed the middle of the night check. We stood in the barn a little puzzled, finding that someone had moved a calf and relocated a heifer. “Must have been the UPS man,” I laughed. Pointing to the size 10.5 boot prints across the yard, it was surely Chris, but then again…
    We all joke about calving season, but it’s a very rewarding time of year around here. We welcome the new additions to the herd, anticipate the year ahead and enjoy the opportunity to work together as a family. We’re excited when the first calf of the year arrives, and we’re equally excited when the last calf of the year arrives.
    Bryce and Joshua rushed out to see this year’s first calf. “It’s the cutest calf I’ve ever seen,” exclaimed Joshua. When calf two arrived, he repeated, “It’s the cutest calf I’ve ever seen!” At this rate they’ll be pretty darn good-looking by the time we wrap this project up.
    Jennifer Vineyard Womack is executive director of the Wyoming FFA Foundation and a freelance writer. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 307-351-0730.