So, I realize this post may just get lost in a sea of other voices who are just fed up with this winter. But I need to talk about this cold weather, and honestly if someone in Upstate NY complains about the cold, you know it must be bad. The cold makes every thing a 1000 times harder for everyone, but I think that might especially true for farmers, so I feel completely justified with the
rant discussion included in this post.
Cattle need food during cold weather, lots and lots of food. Unfortunately, they don’t feed themselves so frequent trips to the barn are unavoidable, and for the most part unpleasant. Here’s why:
The ridiculous amount of clothing
For starters, in this frigid weather a simple task like throwing the cattle some extra hay in the middle of the day requires dressing like you are preparing for a 3 day hike across the tundra. I am not even kidding, I have been wearing 15 pounds of Carhartts, thermals, wool socks, face masks and whatever else I can wedge in between my body and my coat. I am basically wearing more clothes at one time than Miley Cyrus has worn all year. I have the selfies on twitter to prove it:
— Jennifer (@homeinFLX) January 22, 2014
I hate all these extra layers. It’s feels heavy, cumbersome and slows me down. I miss my flip flops.
Feeding the Cows
Like I said the cows need more food when it is cold like this. The increased food supports the energy they need to keep themselves warm. Making sure all those needs are met means that farmers (or the farmer’s wife) spend more time out in the bitter cold . Throwing the cows extra hay by hand is time consuming and labor intensive. Feeding them once a day from a big round bale would be less work, but we would miss early signs of health and appetite issues. Basically all this manual labor in the cold gives me grounds to claim that I am the best wife ever for going out in this weather to feed and keep an eye on my husband’s cows. FYI for my husband: Valentine’s day is coming, and I really really want a Tamron AF 90mm f/2.8 Di SP AF/MF 1:1 Macro Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras.
A fact that some may find surprising is the bitter cold is actually not as stressful for the cattle as extreme heat in summer as long as they have plenty of food, water, dry bedding, shelter from the wind.
The Cattle Waterer
I won’t go into all the workings of the cattle waterer, but basically the cows push one of the red balls down with their nose and drinks from a reservoir below which is supplied with an underground water line. Works beautifully 95% of the time. When winter blasts temps in the single digits the water has problems. Prolonged single digit temps and the cattle waterer’s problems are now the farmer’s wife’s problem.
So I fill up two milk jugs with the hottest water I can get out of my kitchen tap, put on my 15 pounds of extra clothes, trudge across the winter wasteland, and pour hot water on the cattle water until things are defrosted. Some days it unfreezes within 20 minutes, other days it does not play so nice, and a second trip to refill the milk jugs with hot water is needed. On those days my vocabulary can get pretty colorful.
It’s cold but I suppose it is not all bad. Do you remember my pet cow Red? She always comes over to see what is going on, we get to spend some time together.
Ok, she eats, I take more selfies
How are managing in the cold? Go ahead, feel free to complain with me, misery loves company