We've been getting ready for calving season this past month. Lynn piled and hauled manure out of the maternity pen. We still have some pens to clean out and fences to fix, but we've crossed a few things off the list.

Andrea spent several days chopping burdock in fields. Next summer, we'll try to spray these plants, but we didn't have time this year. Gathering burrs will help to prevent the eye problems we used to get every winter in the cattle.

When cattle get covered with burrs and the burrs shatter to spread their seeds, some of the microscopic fragments can get in their eyes. The irritation creates inflammation and infection. It looks just like a bad case of pinkeye. The sliver eventually works out, but the eye heals up faster if it is stitched shut and treated with antibiotics. It's easier to get rid of the burrs.

We butchered the 2-year-old bull that got injured last month. This spring, he suffered an injured shoulder and was out of action for a couple of weeks, but his hind leg injury this fall was more serious. He was packing the leg and we weren't sure whether he'd injured the stifle or hock. When we butchered him, we discovered the hock joint was totally separated. It never would have healed enough for him to be sound. That left us short a bull, so we are buying another one.

We raise most of our own bulls and usually have plenty, but not this year. When Lynn and I sold part of the cows to Michael and Carolyn last fall, we also reduced our number of bulls, not knowing that the kids and their cows would all be coming home this spring.

We irrigated a few of our dry fields last month. There wasn't enough water in the creek earlier this summer after hay harvest. We got some wet before Lynn had to turn the ditches off last week. It's been down to 7 degrees F, and the cold weather was starting to create ice flows across the fields.

We also had the vet out this week to help us open and drain a huge hematoma on my 2-year-old filly. She fell down a few weeks ago and her bruised hindquarter created a lot of serum. We drained the fluid off with a sterile needle but it kept refilling, so it had to be opened up.

The carpenters are coming along well on Michael and Carolyn's house. The roof is on and they are finishing the inside. We're hoping to get them in before calving season, so we can get their stored things out of the calving barn.