Sunday, January 5, 2014

When Is It Cold Enough to Shut the Farm Down?

Our church was cancelled today.

Countless school districts in Central Illinois have cancelled their first day back after a long Christmas break tomorrow due to crazy, blustery snow and absolutely bitter cold temperatures. The high tomorrow in our area is -9.

It's miserable.

As a teacher, I adored the weather cancellation day. Snow days as a kid were a dream. Waking early enough to hear the sweet voice of the teacher up higher on the phone tree, and then to see the name of our school scroll across the morning news made us all yelp with joy. The best snow days were those that were bad in the morning, but, good enough in the afternoon to go somewhere. Shopping as a kid…the gym as an adult.

Now, however, when Old Man Winter comes to call, it's not as fun. There's no fuzzy pajama day for Joe with sweet memories made frolicking in the snow, baking cookies or playing board games. Unlike when I was a teacher, when Joe gets a snow day, cold day or ice, there's no happy dance. Just more  work. Longer days. Harder days. Trickier situations. Frustrating and frigid conditions.

So, when is it cold enough to shut the farm down?

Answer: NEVER.

We never shut down. We're like Steak-n-Shake. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a freaking year.

Oh the joys.

This morning, Joe left at seven, just as we received the call from church that it was cancelled, and right after the road commissioner (God bless him) had come plowing down our road. He worked until lunch time, came in to thaw out, and will go back out again in a few moments to do more checks.

Not only is he feeding extra, bedding down areas, plowing out pasture entrances, but water is also the crucial issue. With the cold, cold temperatures, our water and its manner of coming out is always a concern. Lakes are frozen, obviously, so Joe has to cut ice. His favorite place to winter cows has a nice ever flowing stream, but thanks to the dry end of the summer, it's so low that it's not reliable. Automatic waterers are an obvious solution, however, with frigid temperatures, the plumbing at the pump houses has to be warm enough to not freeze, and the waterers themselves have to keep warm and not freeze up.

Sounds like fun, huh?

It's a party, believe me.

So, in temperatures and conditions such as these, the farm CANNOT shut down. Absolutely not.

What's a farmer to do, then?

Suck it up.

Get out there.

Enjoy nature's splendor through goggles and a ski mask. Clear out his wife's stash of light bulbs to warm up water lines. Check on each other and lament. Come in and have a nice cup of cocoa from a semi-sympathetic wife who has been cooped up with four kids all day…

Sorry, in the midst of feeling sorry for Joe, I started to feel sorry for myself.

I'm digressing.

Anyway, it's never too cold to farm, so we better just get used to it and get on with it, right?

We'd covet your prayers for the animals, Joe, water, winter to be over, patience, happiness, and spring.

And, if you have a time share you'd like to offer up, we'd gladly take it…

for the 2 weeks we're free in the summer.

Happy snow day.

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