It’s cold outside, and everybody’s talking about it. Here at Pipi’s Pasture it is a little warmer than in Craig, but no matter whether the thermometer reads -24 degrees or -30 degrees, one thing is for sure—it’s plenty cold.
There are signs typical of the changing seasons on a ranch or farm. You know that it’s a cold winter because:
• Chore clothes consist of three pair of socks, a stocking cap, a neck scarf, and at least seven layers of other clothing which might include long underwear, shirts, jackets, sweaters, pants, an overcoat, and sometimes even a pajama top.
• It takes at least fifteen minutes to get all the outside clothing on and fifteen minutes to take it all off.
• There’s always the chance that pickup trucks, tractors, and cars won’t start.
• The cows are all covered with frost in the morning.
• Sometimes even heated stock tanks are covered with ice that has to be chopped and removed.
• Hoses used to fill stock tanks have to be drained, “curled up”, put inside where it’s warm, and then taken out the next day, after which the same routine is followed.
• Unheated water tanks, as in chicken houses, have to be checked periodically during the day so the water stays open.
• Icicles of every length hang from buildings from every angle.
• It’s difficult to remove frozen manure from corral livestock buildings that aren’t heated.
• One degree above zero seems warm.
• Chore clothes are spread out in the house, drying over heat vents, in front of stoves, and on boot warmers.
• Barn cats seek shelter in openings of hay stacks, under buildings, and in the barn.
• The dogs don’t want to go outside.
• The trees are covered with frost that falls like snow later in the day.
• Packing wood and coal into the house and ashes out of the house are all a part of the daily chores.
• Area residents share weather forecast information.
• Watching a cow, horse, or sheep, you can see its “breath”.
• There are “holes” on the feedlot, made from cow bodies as they slept on the feedlot the night before.
• Everyday aches and pains seem a lot worse.
• When the sun comes out, cows stand, eyes closed, enjoying the warmth.
• After a frigid morning of chores, there’s nothing better than the aroma of hot soup simmering on the stove.
Copyright Diane Prather, 2013