It warmed up ten whole degrees today…woohoo! It was around seven above zero when the sun came up, not sure what it was when I got up, around 5:30. Like a lot of folks, I shudder to think of my oil and propane bill and the wood stove hasn’t cooled down in weeks. It’s a real drag and, yes, that’s meant literally. Going to the barn, in wind chills well below zero, is rough; even the dogs look at me like I’m crazy and seem to say, “Are you sure those stinkin’ barn cats need food?” They think it’s okay to go out in the frigid temps to have fun but to do work…hmmm, not so much. And some folks call them dumb animals.
Around here, most farmers wait until, at the bare minimum, daylight to do chores but it’s an individual decision to wait until it warms up, the sun shines, the wind isn’t howling…there are a bunch of reason to make the choice and generally based on the safety factor. I hate to get on the tractor when the wind is howling, yet, that’s when the animals need hay most. Due to the wind, we have deep snow drifts and huge areas where there isn’t any snow; also, these photos were taken on different days.
A combination of factors enter into when I put out hay. Obviously, the most important factor is if the animals are out of hay. That makes it an easy decision. If the wind is howling, that’s another negative factor and if there’s any sort of moisture…I get the hay out as quickly and safely as possible. Usually, the hay has a round, metal ring around it to keep it from being trampled, but, it’s been so cold, I put this round bale closer to the house…better for my safety. Horses produce heat from the gut out and need protein to produce heat in order to stay warm and healthy. All my animals have free choice shelter, water that’s warmed with a de-icer and free choice hay. As with humans, it’s easier and less expensive to stay well than get well.
I set out three round bales of hay and do other necessary chores; all that takes me around three hours. Daddy John could do it in a lot less time but he’s more comfortable on a tractor than am I; I tend to go v.e.r.y. slowly and carefully. I’d rather take longer and be safe than hurry up and risk a doctor or hospital visit.
A couple of weeks ago, it was warm enough to dig out the tractor; the door being frozen due to ground heave. Ground heave is caused by freeze thaw cycles and the mud had frozen to the door, and, using a mattox, I dug a trench so I could open and close the barn door. Freezing weather and door locks do not a good partnership make and, next, the door lock froze. I tried a lot of things before resorting to boiling water poured over the lock. Someone said, “weren’t you afraid you’d break the lock?” Trust me, that was the least of my worries! The same measures were used to open the lock on the wood barn and, tomorrow, I’m going to bring a couple of weeks worth of wood to the back porch.
When we first moved to the farm, I asked Dave for three things: a well for drinking water, a gas stove for cooking and a wood stove for heating. Our well is 650 feet deep and produces 75 gallons of sweet limestone water a minute; our Acorn cook stove has gas burners and I’ve written about our beautiful wood stove that heats a portion of the house.
There are five seasons on a farm, winter, spring, summer, autumn and mud with mud season happening, on and off, all year ’round. There are times the mud is so deep and thick, my Muck boots are sucked off my feet and not something that bears too close a look when one considers muck…manure, urine, crap and…what about the ‘k’? -smile-
Back in the house, Levi, Gypsy and Tippy have to be shooed out of the bathroom tub so I can have a bone warming hot soak. After being in the cold for so many hours, my knees feel like shattered glass and only a hot water soak alleviates the pain…well, hot water and a few aspirin. Today was a red letter day; Dr. Ann removed Levi’s nubbins so he’ll spend his life healthier although p’raps not happier but he’ll never know different and a loving family member.
The dogs crowd on the sofa, in the living room where the wood stove keeps all toasty. At the moment, the bone sucking cold is making life difficult and I’ve heard a “super storm” is headed our way tomorrow. I’m not sure what that means but it sounds like more cold, more snow, more winds and more pain. ugh. Tuck me into prayer, would you, please?
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ~ Albert Einstein ~
Today’s Miracles ~ sunshine ~ heathy animals ~ successful surgery ~ tub of hot water ~ aspirin ~ good boots ~ round bales of alfalfa hay ~