Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Cold Day In Kansas

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: weather, kansas, farms, animals,

Hank and Missy the Katahdin lamb.It looks like the Farmers’ Almanac was right on the money with its prediction of an ice-cold winter in the middle of the country. On my farm in Osage County, we’ve not experienced temperatures above freezing for a couple of weeks running. And today, the high is predicted to be around 6 degrees. Brrr … this North Dakota boy isn’t used to that kind of cold down here in Kansas. Neither is the plumbing in the barn. I have my fingers crossed that the frozen pipe in question won’t actually burst – it is PEX after all.

 Mulefoot pigs in the snow.

What’s amazing about this cold day in Kansas is that our animals take it in stride. From the Mulefoot pigs snuggled in their huts or buried in their haystacks, to the Katahdin sheep boldly bedded down in the open (but out of the wind), to the chickens and goats hanging together in the old Butler grain bin, to the Highland cattle who prefer the woods, these barnyard animals have the metabolic and physiological wherewithal to handle cold days – and nights – without a pellet stove glowing in the corner. Wow! Impressive isn’t it? All they require is a bit more feed and hay and they are good to go.

Katahdin sheep in Osage County

The folks who grew up around here tell me that this is one of the longest cold spells they can remember. I believe them. I have a vested interest in believing them. As much as I like snow, I don’t like bitter cold. I had my fill of frostbitten cheeks as a kid in North Dakota and struggled with sufficient icy implements as an adult in South Dakota. So, I eagerly await the end to this cold day in Kansas, and the one predicted for tomorrow. With any luck, daytime temperatures will be back above freezing sometime next week. In the meantime, I’ve got my Dickies insulated coveralls and silk long johns with the camo pattern handy.

Photos courtesy Karen Keb.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

1/9/2015 10:45:35 AM

I am about 30 miles West of Topeka, and wow is it cold when the wind comes whistling up the side of the hill here. One of my Guinea Fowl decided to sleep on her favorite perch on the roof of the chicken house. I expected a frozen gargoyle shaped Guinea this morning, but she was fine. The other 7 cuddled up with the chickens inside. I'm ready for Spring, but there is one upside. When I lived in Texas, we had some really mild winters and it meant we would have terrible insect problems the next summer. They just didn't get killed off by the cold. By that measure, we shouldn't have many bugs in the Midwest this summer. Hope we get a benefit from all that freezing tank ice we are breaking now!

s.m.r. saia
1/26/2010 4:40:41 PM

For awhile there it was getting pretty doggone cold here in MD too - 16 degrees at 5 a.m. Not as bad as your 6, and my 16 was a low, not a high, but it's not normal for around here. It's getting to where 40 is making me start to feel spring fever! Stay warm! Shannon

oz girl
1/19/2010 9:25:31 AM

Hi Hank, First, thanks so much for stopping by to visit the "new kid" on the Grit blogging block. :-) And the fog? I'm not sure if I'm daring enough to say I'd prefer snow? Probably not. But my goodness I'll be glad when this fog takes its leave!! I'm amazed how our outside cats and the horses weather extremely cold weather and snow. Of course, the horses have their burly winter coats on, and once they've had some alfalfa, you can just feel their inside furnace heating up. I sure wish I could weather the cold like I used to as a kid, but I'm afraid my sledding and ice-skating days are behind me. Good grief, I even have difficulty staying outside long enough for photography in the cold winter months... although I probably shouldn't complain as much as others have a right to... at least we are one mile from the OK border, so our winter is fairly mild. :-) I'm looking forward to following my fellow Grit bloggers and I'll be more than happy to point my internet bloggy friends this way more than once in the future! Susan City Gal Moves to Oz Land

hank will_2
1/18/2010 3:28:16 PM

Thanks Vickie -- the animals seem to be even happier now that the temps are back above freezing. But we've had several days of fog as a result. I need a little sunshine! Cindy -- I'd take snow over bitter cold any day. I am glad that the snow fell in front of the temperature though, because it kept the frost from creeping too deep. Right now we have water, about 3 inches of mud and then about 3 inches of frost. What I wouldn't give for a warm south wind right now. :)

1/8/2010 7:39:05 AM

I love all the pictures of your animals. Like you say they all look like they are handling they cold weather just fine. It's been cold here that's for sure but I guess like Cinty says it could be colder. It's been pretty dry here but the kids got their first snow day off school today with our first big snow of the season last night. Have a great day, Hank vickie

cindy murphy
1/7/2010 2:09:53 PM

The Farmer's Almanac was right? Bah! Not here. I checked your blog on that subject just a couple of days ago, to be sure I remembered correctly. I did. Bitter cold and dry was the weather predicted for this area. I went skiing in six-degree weather the other day, but that was the coldest it's been. Though we've been below freezing, it's far from bitterly cold; mid-twenties has been about the average. And nearly four feet of snow in thirty-six hours is not dry! Doesn't matter to me they were wrong. Lovin' it. I'll take snow over bitter temperatures any day. I'm not minding at all the Almanac was wrong in my neck of the woods. Hoping, in fact, it continues to be wrong all winter!