Surviving the Winter
Have you ever noticed that people always talk about the weather? For farmers, the weather is what makes or breaks a day. I can remember when my grandpa would say things like, “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight – red sky in the morn, sailors take warn.” Little sayings like these have been repeated for decades. Many people past and present still read the Farmer’s Almanac because it includes weather predictions for the year. How often is it right?
Well, Super Bowl Sunday we had a winter snowstorm that blanketed the surrounding area with lots of snow. It lasted from Saturday night into Monday morning. Our guys were plowing snow nonstop trying to stay ahead of it. Sunday night, my husband went to bed around 10:30 p.m. after plowing for hours and got up at 1:30 a.m. to start plowing again. He was concerned about our farm employees not being able to make it in for milking. He even had to pick up one employee on the tractor because the employee was blocked in his driveway.
My husband called before 5 a.m. that morning to ask our 13-year-old son to come feed calves since they were busy. So I drove him over next door to the farm so he could help, although barely able to get out of our own driveway. When I went to pick him up, I took a hot, homemade breakfast to everyone who had been working since the early hours of the morning. Sometimes it’s the little things like a warming breakfast on a cold, long morning that help keep up morale. During the endless winters in Michigan, the physical and mental strain can be a lot.
Not only is the winter hard on people, but it can be hard on animals, too. We ensure that our animals are well taken care of all year round. In the winter when calves are born, we immediately put a wool blanket on them to keep them warm. All of our barns have curtains and doors that close or retract. The curtains are pulled up and the doors shut to help keep the heat of the animals in the barn. While our waterers for the cows are heated, they can still freeze. We are constantly checking and fixing them to make sure our animals have continuous access to fresh water. And, just like humans, in the winter cows like their food close to them, so we are always pushing it toward them. Their bedding is changed often to keep it dry, making them warm and comfortable. Lastly, our veterinarian comes once a week to check up on the cows and provide any extra care necessary.
Winter can take its toll on people and animals, but we all find ways to make it through. For us, that means caring for each other and our animals.