Chris Lees had some special guests in his home Feb. 14, but it had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.
The Arcola-area rancher brought three newborn calves from his farm into his house, giving them a chance to warm up and stay out of the extreme cold. The calves were born earlier in the day.
“We’re just starting to calve, and quite often a group of cows will just decide it’s the day to calve, and it’s a bit of a weather change,” Lees told the Observer. “I guess they just decided the last day of the really cold weather, they were all going to calve.”
The barn was full and the hot box where the Lees would typically put calves to warm up also had no vacancies, so it seemed like the easiest thing to do was bring the three animals in the house, warm them up for a couple of hours, allow them to dry off and take them back to their mothers.
“When they’re fresh born, they’re wet and they can freeze really quick,” said Lees. “A real good mom will get her calf up and going, but at 40 below, it’s tough on you and me, and we’re dressed for the worst weather possible. They’re out there in the elements, with wet hair and what have you, and they need to get dried off and they need to get warmed up.”
This isn’t the first time that he has brought newborn calves into his home, but he’s never had three in the house at the same time. In fact, he can’t recall having more than one calf in there at once. Lees knows of other cattle farmers who have kept newborn calves into their house or heated shop for a short period of time so they can stay warm.
“It’s our life and it’s our passion, raising cattle, and you need to get these calves warmed up, and happy and healthy, so they can go back and be with their moms,” said Lees.
He even compared it to having your dog or your cat in the house.
The calves are doing well now, and they’re happy the temperatures have warmed up. It was still pretty cold outside on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it felt a lot warmer compared to -30 C with a strong northwest wind.
Lees, who is the board president for the Canadian Western Agribition, sent a photo of the cattle to Agribition’s CEO, noting that housing the calves was his family’s activity for Valentine’s Day. The photo was then posted on social media, which brought lots of attention to Lees’ gesture.
He’s been receiving lots of calls since then, and he’s okay with the added recognition.