I don’t know what it is like where you are, but here it has been pretty cold the last couple of weeks. When it was really cold an awful lot of places were closed. Schools, some mail delivery, government offices, many businesses, and other stuff just did not operate. Various experts were telling us to “stay inside” because of “dangerous cold”. I heard a emergency room doctor on the radio saying that if your kids go outside you should limit them to 5 minutes. This kind of stuff always makes me sigh… While I appreciate that the warnings are necessary, and indeed do save lives, I sigh because most of us forget that there are many people who cannot take off work, and furthermore, many of those people work outside. I saw many people working during the cold on the farms I visit every day. Dairy farmers would scoff at the idea of simply not working on cold days. Cows need to eat, to get milked, have stalls cleaned, and all the other things that go into caring for animals. Every farmer also knows that cold days are challenging because a lot of stuff just takes longer to do. Doors don’t open, loaders don’t start, waterers freeze, employees need rides, you get it… So not only do farmers work on cold days, they work MORE on cold days! Of course nobody understands this except the few of us involved in producing food.
The other thing people do not appreciate is just what farmers do to prepare for cold BEFORE it gets cold. Farmers know that the sand will freeze up solid, so stalls get bedding the last warm day before the cold. They make sure all cold sensitive equipment is parked inside and is cold ready before the cold hits. Barns are closed up, with any holes repaired before it gets cold. Calves get more bedding, and some are outfitted with coats before it gets cold. Waterers are inspected to make sure heating elements work so cattle have water when it is really cold. Farm yards are scraped and sanded, if needed, so that the milk truck can get in and out on cold days. Farmers do this and much, much more. But this is not all, because in spite of lots of preparation there are always things that go wrong during the cold, so farmers spend more time fixing and repairing things once it warms up too. So the long and short of it is that farmers work harder and longer before it gets cold, during the cold snap, and afterwards too. So here is a big THANK YOU, from someone who notices. You all keep the world turning.