Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska
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Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska

Water in the Bunk

February 6, 2012Animal Well-Being, Beef, Farmers and Ranchers

As the stubborn independent middle child, I often listen to what my mother says, and then do the opposite. She warned me a week ago, that coming home might be a bad idea, as Nebraska was set to get a winter storm over the weekend. I glanced at the radar, and with all the expertise of one climatology class, decided to head home anyway. Friday afternoon I teased her about "all the snow" (which was none) that I had to drive through on my way home.

Then Saturday came, as I awoke and glanced out the window, my teasing was silenced. We had gotten more than 11 inches of snow! Like so many other ranch families, I donned my long underwear, pants, and coveralls and headed out the door. My dad manned the tractor and began clearing the driveways around the place while my mother and I scooped bunks so the cattle could eat. While scooping each long stretch I remembered a lesson learned not too long ago.

My brothers and I were not big fans of scooping. One time we decided not the clear the snow out of the entire bunk, and instead to simply clear a single section for our show calves. I'm not sure whether my dad never noticed that the bunk wasn't entirely clear, or that he wanted us to learn a lesson. Weeks later when the snow melted, we had a problem on our hands. Instead of clearing the precipitation in its scoop-able form, we now had a huge puddle that nearly covered the entire feeding space. Getting the water out of the bunk took a lot more work and creativity.

A job half-done doesn't always result in immediate consequences. It may never cost money, time, or effort, but the water in the bunk serves as a real reminder that a job worth doing is worth doing right.