When A Cold Snap Hits … The Animals Come First

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Growing up on a livestock farm meant chores for us several times a day – more than usual during bitter cold weather.

As I monitor Facebook posts, tweets and blogs from farmers as well as press releases from state ag commissioners and universities about preparing and surviving another cold snap, I think back to the farm winters I’ve lived through.

Growing up on a livestock farm meant chores for us several times a day – more than usual during bitter cold weather.

We hooked a hose to the kitchen sink, filling buckets of hot water to haul and unthaw frozen waterers. Often, as the oldest girl in the family, I was the one to fill those buckets and drag them toward the door for my brothers or folks to carry out. My only hazard at that point was not overrunning pails as I simultaneously watched Gilligan’s Island or Andy Griffith. I remember it took only once to get caught mopping up the kitchen floor before I became more conscientious.

As I grew older, I joined the bucket brigade and learned quickly to layer jackets, gloves and hats and scarves – and wish I were the one in the house filling those buckets.

Of course, the coldest weather seemed to spur early births and, after my folks sold their dairy herd and concentrated on a farrow-to-finish hog operations, I helped haul half-frozen newborn pigs to the house. With forethought, my mom had put a sink in our entryway just large enough to hold a pig. After thawing the pigs, I’d wrap them like up like babies, hold them until they had the strength to squeal and then dry them, reader to return to the barn.

Today, more than 40 years later, I rewrite news releases and post warnings to those of you who are on the frontlines, battling the cold and keeping your livestock as comfortable as possible.

At the same time, I’m constantly checking the progress of the Green Bay Packer game against the San Francisco 49ers – at Green Bay in 4-degree temps. One can only wish farmers could get the same pay NFL players get for doing their jobs in this kind of weather …

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