Sunflower from the Sunflower State

Sunflower from the Sunflower State

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Breaking the Ice

In awkward social settings, it's often left to some brave soul to be the one who breaks the ice.  Back when I was a middle school Stuco sponsor, I was always thankful for those one or two brave preteen boys who were the first to venture from the self-segregated boys' side of the room to the corner filled with the giggling girls. That's when the dance officially got started. (I also said it was a successful dance if no girls ended up crying in the bathroom by the end of the night. But that's a different story.)
We've needed an ice breaker around here the last few days, even without a middle school dance. A whirlpool of frigid, dense air known as a "polar vortex" descended Monday into much of the U.S., pummeling parts of the country with a dangerous cold that broke decades-old records with wind chill warnings stretching from Montana to Alabama. While we didn't break any records here, we did have -8 degrees Monday morning. That had me thinking, "Ice, ice, baby!" even if I don't remember any other words (or the tune, for that matter).

On these cold days, Randy literally broke the ice, swinging a mallet to break the surface on the cattle's water tanks. I think the cattle were as glad to see him as those middle school girls were to have those brave boys "break the ice."

When we arrived at the barn, the cattle were all standing around the water tank like those middle school girls. But, when we got out of the pickup, they scattered to the feed bunks in the adjoining lot. It didn't take long for a curious - and thirsty - cow to look longingly back at the water tank ...
... and come back for a long swig of water from the now-available water.
Breaking the ice is just one task that has to happen to care for cattle during inclement weather. The guys spread some hay around the feed bunks to give the cattle a dry place to lay down. During the winter, we try to have cattle in pastures and other locations with a north windbreak (like that pictured below). It gives them a little protection when the north wind is howling.
Randy & Jake also make sure the cattle have plenty of feed before snow or subzero temperatures hit.
If you look closely, you can see the cow's breath in the cold air.
I know people were digging in the closet for their warmest coats and long underwear. It's good the cattle have already "put on" their winter coats.We are thankful that we weren't calving during these past few days. We'll put in our "order" for a little warmer weather as we move toward the end of January and the first of February - the time when our bovine maternity ward is expected to have a pick up in business.

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