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.
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.
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 Google+.