Saturday, January 30, 2010

Baby it's cold outside

A person knows its cold when the digital thermometer on our desk reads,
"- - -." However, Joe still "gets" to go out and do chores on this crisp Saturday morning. . . lucky him. I have always considered myself a "winter person," mainly because I love Christmas and sweaters, however, upon becoming a livestock wife, I have realized that winter is not fun on the farm.

Let me back up. My dad was/is a grain farmer and an ag instructor. Because of this, I never realized the implications of sub zero wind chills on the "other farmers." Once the harvest was complete, and the combine was put in the shed, for my grain farming dad and others, winter was a time to relax, catch up on bookkeeping, Illini basketball, and take a vacation on a beach (we never did, however, Dad HATES water. . . not that I'm resentful). However, for a livestock farmer, it means de-icing water, warming up tractors for at least 20 minutes, and making sure the calves born during this time are in a safe place. Everything takes longer, and for my "I need to know when you're going to be home so that dinner can be at least a glimmer and I can go to the bathroom alone" purposes, it wreaks havoc.

On these cold days, Joe is like a good parent to his herd, continually checking them, especially the heifers who are nearing their due dates. Even last night as we drove home from a failed attempt to hit Tractor Supply Co. before it closed, we stopped and checked the heifers. I felt myself getting annoyed, which I tend to do, because I just wanted to get the kids home and in bed. Amelia and Anna were already dead asleep, while Josie remained last kid standing. Once Joe stepped out with his flashlight to check his heifers, I found my mind racing toward the next steps when we got home- how to get Anna's PJs on when she had obviously fallen into deep sleep, other such "necessary" worries. My thoughts were broken, however, by a little cartoon-like voice in the back.

"Yes, Josie."
"Do you know that I am looking at the moon?"
"You are? That's nice."
"Did you know that I think the moon is soooooo magical?"
"Why do you think so?"
"Because Daddy says it will help the cows and their babies."

My little livestock girls will know so much about the life cycle of our animals, learning tidbits of "farming lore" like the magical moon from their dad as we drive home at night. Joe is just repeating what he heard as a kid from his dad: when the moon full, it will help the calves be born . . . or so "Pappy" says. However, sharing stories like this with the kids, even though it's freezing cold and chores take extra long to do, make Joe's job less of a "job," and more of a way to connect with each other. I guess that is what's "cool" (excuse the pun) about farming.

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