Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Survived the Deep Freeze

With the temperature expected to hit the 60° mark later today, I think it's safe to say we survived the "Deep Freeze of 2014".

cows showing off their "slobbersickles"
on the coldest morning in 17 years
As we expected, frozen water troughs and frozen milking equipment were the two major problems we addressed during the sixty-hour freeze from Sunday night through late Wednesday morning. Keeping fresh water available in our pastures proved not to be too terribly time-consuming, as busting and pitching out the surface ice in troughs once a day was generally sufficient. On the other hand, freezing milking equipment did put us behind the first three mornings of the week. Before we could milk our cows on a 7°F Tuesday morning (coldest temp since '96), Dad and I spent an hour thawing milk lines, pneumatic valves that power the equipment, and part of the vacuum system. Monday and Wednesday weren't quite as bad, each requiring only 30-45 minutes of pre-milking maintenance.

Who was that masked man?
I guess the most important thing through it all was that neither our cows nor we were ever in any danger of suffering cold-related health issues. Cows can handle temperatures well below 0° provided they have plenty to eat and drink, stay dry, and can get out of the wind, all of which ours did. And we were smart enough to wear plenty of layers and not stay out in the open for too long in cold we simply aren't used to. My fingers and toes got a little numb a few times, but far from anything serious.

We are less than two weeks into January, so there is certainly time for another round of unusually frigid air to make it this far south. After working through what we did earlier this week, though, I don't have any doubt we can adjust our daily schedule and farm chores to successfully deal with it. 

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