Everyone in our area has been shivering from a cold arctic blast. Life isn't easy when this kind of weather takes over.
Work on farms with livestock becomes even more challenging. Machinery breakdowns push people to their limits. Freezing water pipes make a person wonder why they chose this line of work.
I remember when Illinois friends had the water in their dairy barn freeze and it took forever to get it thawed. In the meantime, they hauled water in buckets to their cows - one cow drinks a bathtub worth of water a day. That husband and wife team must have got longer arms after lugging water from the house to the barn that winter.
Currently our only livestock consists of seven hens, two roosters, and a handful of barn cats. Every morning Bob tends to these critters, bringing food and water - there's no outside running water during the winter.
Lately, I've been sending out extra treats to add to their usual food. The outside cats always have dry cat food, but lately I've added a tin of cat food, too. Also, they get any scraps like chicken bones, and fat - they really appreciate Bob when he brings extras.
Our chickens like leftovers, too. Mostly, I send dried bread and vegetable peelings to them. It's a good time to clean out the freezer, too. I'll even cook up freezer-burned stuff for our critters - anything to help them make it through this extreme weather.
With below zero temps, Bob or I take a second trip out to the chicken pen in the afternoon to freshen their water and collect any late coming eggs - at these temps I think chickens lay frozen eggs.
Except for the extreme cold/windy days, Sunny our dog and I have a daily walk - when it got bitterly cold, even Sunny didn't want to go outside. He waited until the last moment before asking to be let out for a potty break and then he didn't waste time outside.
One cold and windy day, I remembered I had books and a video due at the library. I really didn't feel like heading into town, but I did anyway.
For some reason, after putting on my coat and earmuffs, I decided to grab my unstylish, but warm winter hat and scarf and take them along . . . just in case. I had no idea that I would need them.
When I arrived at the library, I pulled up to the drop boxes. I wasn't in the mood to get out of the car for a trip inside, even for a quick trip. So I pushed the button to let my window down and drop the stuff off.
A crunching sound followed the window down. I figured water had frozen inside. The trouble was when I wanted the window to go up again, it only moved about two inches.
I pushed the window button multiple times. Nothing changed. The window moved only a couple inches. My only option was to drive home with the window down so I pulled away from the library and headed toward Bob.
I hadn't gone far when the freezing wind got to me. I couldn't pull over right away because a truck was right behind me, but finally I found a safe spot to stop and on went my fur-lined hat and wool scarf.
The ride home was interesting. I debated between going the speed limit, or going slow. If I drove slow the wind wasn't so bad, but it took longer. When I went faster I was a lot colder, but that's what I choose to do. By the time I got home I was shivering.
Bob wasn't thrilled when I told him about the problem. It was Saturday and we wouldn't be able to get it fixed until Monday, but the car couldn't just set outside with the window wide open.
We rigged a tarp over the door, covering the opening and hoped no critters would find their way inside.
Bob eventually drove the car to the repair shop and found out it wasn't ice, but a broken part that caused the problem. Not exactly something a person can plan on.
Appreciate all the people working outside in the cold, and be prepared yourself because the unforeseen can happen anytime to you, too - but let's hope it doesn't.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.