Our cold weather before Christmas froze our creek and we were chopping holes in the ice twice daily for the cows. An ice flow started out across one field so we moved those cows to a different place. We didn't want to risk having a cow get stranded on the ice.

Twice in the past 30 years we've had cows slip on ice, spraddling their hind legs - unable to get up and becoming temporarily paralyzed. We managed to get the cows home by pulling them off the ice, rolling them onto a makeshift "sled" to pull home behind the feed truck.

Both cows recovered after being bedded in deep straw with their hind legs hobbled (tied together with about 12-16 in. of space between them, so they couldn't spraddle out again when they tried to stand) for a few days. We only did this until their pulled muscles and nerve damage healed.

We turned the cows a couple times a day so they weren't always lying on the same side, and helped them up for a short period of standing until they could get themselves up. Both cows calved with no problem a few weeks afterward.

The week after Christmas we moved the cows near the house and put heifers and allthe earliest due cows into the maternity pen where we can walk through them at night. We gave the heifers several "fire drills" - putting them into the smaller calving pen, and then into the pen right in front of the barn to eat a little alfalfa hay. This makes it easier to get a heifer in from the maternity pen and into the barn some dark night; she's been through those gates and already knows the way.

We readied everything for calving, moving all stored items out of the barn, the stall panels put back into place and stalls bedded. I replenished our supply of iodine, C & D toxoid for the new calves, disinfectant OB soap and OB sleeves, disposable syringes and new needles, and scours medications.

I rinsed the OB chains and handles in disinfectant, and we made some new rope halters (our old ones were 30 years old and getting frayed).

We put the calf puller in a handy place, in case we have a backward calf (we rarely need it for any other purpose). Lynn got our Buddex (battery dehorner) working and hanging on the wall charger - for dehorning the new calves at the same time we tag, castrate and vaccinate.

Our first calf arrived 10 days ahead of its due date in the wee hours of Dec. 31. The second one came a few days later. They were both born easily to first-calf heifers. Quite a few cows could calve any time.

It should be an easy calving season this year with less cows to calve and only 12 more heifers to calve out.