Rural Manitobans weathering spring snowstorm

The spring storm is presenting its own set of challenges in rural Manitoba.

For cattle rancher Cameron Nykoliation, it means taking extra precautions.

“The wind and the wet, that’s the problem,” said Nykoliation, who runs NYK Cattle Company near Douglas, Manitoba.

Nykoliation says the grown cattle can handle the storm, but the calves are more vulnerable to a heavy wet snow. Courtesy / Cameron Nykoliation

Nykoliation says he’s been busy for the past few days, herding the cattle off the fields and closer to the farmyard, moving feed, and building shelters with dry straw.

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Read more: Major storm underway in Manitoba, expected to stick around until Friday

He says he has about 120 calf-cow pairs of black Angus cattle, and most have already calved this season.

“The mature cattle, they can handle it just fine, they’re well insulated and they’re built for cold outside,” he said.

“The small calves can get a chill. Even this morning I was out for an hour or two in the snow and the wind, it’s such a heavy, wet snow that it just sticks to you and soaks you right through to the bone right away. And those calves standing, (they) don’t have enough body heat to stay warm like that.”

Nykoliation spent time preparing for the spring storm by setting up shelters with dry straw. Courtesy / Cameron Nykoliation

Nykoliation says the younger, newborn calves are staying out of the elements.

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“Any of the little calves, we had a few born here in April, we put them inside a barn with their mothers, we put them right out of the weather where it’s warm,” he said. “We don’t have space for everybody, so it’s kind of the maternity ward.”

Convoy helps health care workers

The whipping winds and snow reduced visibility to zero at times in many parts of rural Manitoba Wednesday, prompting the Morden Fire Department to conduct convoys to ensure healthcare workers could get to work.

Health care workers gathered at two local arenas in the area before being escorted to the hospital by fire trucks and a snow plow.

Members of the Morden Fire Department created a convoy to get healthcare workers to their shift at the hospital. Courtesy / Craig Doell

“They’re mustering in Winkler at the Winkler Arena and then in Morden at the Access Centre. They’re doing that three times a day. They’ve arranged for a snowplow to go first, and then there’s a fire engine — and the staff will be able to follow so they can get to work safely,” Southern Health’s Lorraine Cassan told Global News.

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“It’s going to really help us get our staff in so we can take care of our patients.”

Morden Fire Chief Andy Thiessen crews were even making house calls.

Read more: RCMP reverses decision to shut all major highways in Southern Manitoba, but say closures still possible

“If people can’t make it to the arena for the convoy we then pick them up at their residential home via whatever means we can to get them and then get them to the hospital so they can do their shift for us,” Thiessen said.

Thiessen adds they’d help escort the ambulance out for emergency calls and if the ambulance can’t make it all the way to the home, they’ll go by side-by-side and sled.

“I went through this 25 years ago with the 97′ storm,” Thiessen said.

“We’re a little bit more prepared than we were then, for sure. And for us fire guys, this puts a smile on our faces, it gives us a reason to do stuff. So for us, it’s a good day.”

–With files from Sam Thompson

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