I’d like to say I am a big fan of winter. But that would be a lie.
I hate hot weather but I don’t exactly love frigid temps. I love snow and chilly weather during the month of December and then right about January 10, I am ready for spring. As I schlep buckets of dried distillers grains from the grain bin to the truck and from the truck to the feed bunk, I can’t help but think about how I’m performing my own kind of Winter Olympics. Ranchy, snowy olympics, that is.
If you have ever lived or worked on a farm or ranch, you know that it takes significantly much longer time to do anything in the cold as compared to a warm spring or brisk fall day. If you are not one of the 2% [those of us that raise/produce food], close your eyes and imagine a setting where you are trying to do everything with the added challenge of frozen water, extra clothes, cold machinery and chapped lips. #Ranchlife.
Here are 5 ways in which winter farm chores are like the Winter Olympics:
- It takes a ridiculous number of layers to stay warm – If I were just sitting in the driver’s seat of the truck and not moving, the added layers wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But getting in and out of the tractor, climbing up on bunks, lifting buckets, saddling a horse – everything is a bit more cumbersome and feels heavier. The upside is that my core is always warm. My face might burn from the wind but you can bet my purple Carhartt, coveralls and fleece vest are keeping me toasty!
- My muscle mass goes up in the winter from pumping so much
irongrain – That’s right, these guns are loaded and ready for the show [that might be a bit of an exaggeration]. But because there is no grass to eat right now, we are supplementing our cows with feed. Furthermore, since we don’t own a truck with a feedbox, this grain is loaded into buckets, lifted on a truck, driven out to the pasture, unloaded and carried to the bunks. I honestly notice myself having less trouble lifting by the time spring rolls around because I’m doing so many reps per day with a 50 lb load. Who says women can’t be buff?!
- We get to use cool equipment that is generally parked in the summer – We are very fortunate to have a lease on grass pasture and enough owned pasture that we don’t need to provide our cows with hay during late spring, summer or early fall. That means we don’t use the bale forks on the tractor [implement used to move big hay bales] very often in the summer but they sure get a good workout in the winter. Every day the cows get fresh new bales of hay which they require from a nutritional and metabolic standpoint.
- Just like skiers and snowboarders our skin takes a beating from the cold – Have I mentioned Kansas is windy? Well, it is. And even though my core is warm from the multiple layers, any skin left exposed takes a hit from the wind, snow and frigid air. I have eczema and my fingers and lips dry out very easily so I use a lot of lip balm [Burt’s Bees, to be exact], Udder Balm [the best] and Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Mint hand cream. If the cracks get too bad, I have to break down and use good ole fashioned Neosporin. My hands and face are anxiously awaiting spring!
- Ice is the enemy – Well, probably not for ice skaters and bobsledders but for skiers, snowboarders, farmers and ranchers, ice is #unimpressive. Even though it’s freezing outside, livestock still need fresh, clean water. We have automatic waterers on our ranch but during the winter, when the cattle are on rented pasture, they drink from a pond. A pond that freezes often. So, to add to my winter weight workout, I usually chop a big hole and shove the ice plank under the surface so the cattle can get a drink. Through trial and error, I have determined the best way is a square or rectangle shaped hole, rather than just chopping willy nilly trying to make a random-sized hole for the cattle. Planning makes perfect.
Now, although Winter Olympics contenders may deserve medals for their efforts and activities, we farmers and ranchers aren’t asking for a medal for doing our chores. I may whine a bit about the cold, but I truly do love this lifestyle. I don’t need a pat on the back, gold medal or a participation trophy [NEVER]. What I really want is to answer your questions about ranching, raising cattle and food production, as do my agricultural compadres. If you have questions, please ask me. If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone who does.
Good luck to Team USA!
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
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