Friday, February 6, 2009

Cold Cold and More Cold

When the weather is dangerously cold, it's hard on people everywhere. This winter has definitely had its fair share of dangerously cold, snowy, and icy days. Walking to class in those types of conditions is definitely not my idea of fun; however, I would prefer walking to class over having to work on the farm in that weather.

Many times when the weather gets really dangerous cities and towns are able to shut down. Events, school, work, etc. can be canceled or postponed. Unfortunately, farmers don't have this luxury. If the weather gets bad, they don't get a snow day or a two hour delay. The animals still have to be taken care of, and harsh weather can create many obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing this task.

When the temperature is extremely cold, it creates many additional problems for farmers. One of the major problems they are faced with is water freezing. On our farm we have about 250 head of cattle, and we have enough water tanks to accommodate all of them. Only a few of the water tanks are filled manually with a hose twice a day. Our other water tanks have devices called a float switch. "Maybe Link float switch" These devices allow water to automatically be added when the water reaches a certain level. When temperatures get very low, these devices freeze. This obviously creates a large problem. The only way to fix this problem is to carry numerous buckets of hot water and dump on the water tanks until they thaw out.

Another problem farmer's face is trying to get farm equipment, such as tractors, to run in cold temperatures. I'm sure you've experienced or heard stories of vehicles not starting in extreme temperatures. Tractors are no different, and without tractors, many of the chores on the farm would be impossible. There is one memory in particular that stands out in my mind.

One really cold day my dad was having a hard time starting one of our tractors, and once it did start it would only go a few feet before it died again. This tractor is really old so it wasn't too surprising this happened, but unfortunately this was the tractor hooked up to the mixer. So, in order for my dad to feed the cows, he needed to get this tractor up and running. The only way to get the tractor started was for me to stand at the front of the tractor and spray starter fluid on the engine. Even though I was spraying this starter fluid on the tractor and it was starting, it would only run for about 30-45 seconds. Then, we would have to repeat the process.

As you can see cold weather really slows farmer's down. The task of dumping feed to the cows only takes about 10 minutes regularly, but that night it took closer to 45 minutes. So when I'm walking to class in -30 degree weather, I'm always freezing and wishing I were inside. However, I usually start thinking about my dad working outside for hours, and then I feel very grateful I only have to walk to class.

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