It's pre-winter time

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Pre-winter has arrived in Northwest Colorado.

As residents, we know that this time of year (usually around Halloween) there are periods of snow, sometimes heavy.

The snow is followed by sunny days, melting and more snow, right up to the time that winter sets in for good.

For rural county residents, pre-winter means:

• Cattle have been gathered from summer pasture, though "strays" still are being hauled home.

• Sheep have been trailed home or have been hauled home by semi-trucks.

• Calves are being pre-conditioned.

• Ranchers are making decisions about selling their calves.

• Truckers are getting orders for livestock hauling, and there are a lot more semi-trucks with livestock trailers on the highways.

• Mineral blocks/tubs have been put out in fall pasture areas to supplement nutrients in the fall grasses.

• Cows are being "preg-tested" and culled.

• Veterinarians are starting to book up ranch visits to vaccinate replacement heifers.

• The brand inspector is running from early morning to late at night to inspect all of the livestock leaving the county.

• Tractors are being filled with antifreeze, the batteries are being checked and other maintenance is being done in preparation for the feeding season ahead.

• Snow blowers are being hooked up to tractors.

• Corrals, empty of livestock all summer, now have some cattle in them, and livestock water tanks are filled up at least once a day.

• There's already been ice on the water in livestock tanks in the mornings, and it won't be long before tank heaters will need to be installed.

• 4-H and FFA members are making final decisions about their show calves for the 2009-10 year.

• Stock Show steers are in their last two months of feeding.

• There are sacks and sacks of leaves to rake off the lawns.

• People will find out soon enough if their last year's boots have holes in them, and those with new boots and winter coats will get to try them out soon.

• Corn stalks have been cut and potatoes, carrots and onions harvested, or if they haven't, snow is nature's warning that there's not much time left.

• Garden soil has been turned over.

• Area hunters are hopeful that the snow will bring the elk down from the mountains.

• Wood has been cut and piled and coal and/or pellets hauled in.

• Snow is in the air, and baby icicles hang from roofs.

• Ice-cutting axes (for water holes), feed pans, pitch forks, tools used to cut twine and other winter chore tools are gathered up and put where they can easily be found.

• Tractors, four-wheelers, cars and trucks have to be warmed up in the mornings and windshields defrosted and scraped.

• Tire stores are overbooked with appointments to put winter tires on vehicles.

• Residents, who waited until the last minute, are anxious to get their winter tires put on.

• Fluffy-haired squirrels are hurrying to get the last of their winter provisions stashed away.

• For the first time in several months we have reason to be aware of road conditions.

• Cows, with snow in their hair and wind blowing between their ears, are grumpy.

• Daylight Savings Time begins.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2009.

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