It’s cold, but it could be worse! Last year around this time, we experienced our first ever polar vortex. I don’t think anybody had ever heard that weather term before! It was so cold that we kept the cows indoors all that day, and most of the next, too. We just didn’t want to risk the frostbite. I was thinking we’d have to do that again yesterday – keep them inside – but it wasn’t quite as bad as I’d expected.
After the morning milking, we let them out to graze for as long as they could before the temperature dropped to unreasonable levels. I spent a lot of time walking back and forth between buildings, so I had plenty of opportunity to evaluate the wind and the cows. Interestingly, it just wasn’t that bad. Nobody seemed to be suffering from the cold, the wind didn’t feel too sharp on my not-fur-lined skin, and the sun was shining, so we just let everything ride.
Around 2:30 or so, there was a definite change, though. My cheeks were starting to feel like they’d been cut by tiny slivers of wind-driven ice whenever I went out. We went out for the evening milking an hour later, before it got much worse.
Sometimes, in the height of summer, we have a hard time getting the cows in early if we need to change up the schedule for some reason, but we never have that problem in the winter. They can’t wait to get tucked into their cozy stalls, safe from cold and wet and coyotes. So when they saw me coming, they hightailed it over to the barn and met me at the gate. It was a nice treat to milk in full daylight again!
Then we bedded them down in fluffy stalls, with double rations of hay. We wanted to close up the chicken coops then, too, while were still outdoors. The chickens were a little more ornery, but we got them all rounded up. Meg and I were freezing by the time we finished our chores, and we were grateful to get back indoors to the cozy fire!
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