Ice farming

It’s 7 December and it’s 0 Fahrenheit with the wind-chill here in west-central Ohio, unseasonably arctic for this time of year.

Unfortunately, farming responsibilities don’t stop just because it gets bloody cold, so the question becomes how to carry out one’s daily duties without getting hurt. I’m not an expert on this yet, but I can tell you what I do:

  • First, keep in mind that everything will be frozen. Gates, even doors, will freeze shut had have to be coaxed open. It’s really important at this point to check and see whether animal waterers have frozen over. Usually at this point, I’ve discovered the best solution is to just rotate out water throughout the day. It won’t go on forever, and it will keep your animals healthy.
  • Second, keep in mind that this kind of weather will freeze you. Keep covered in layers even if it makes the work harder. I typically wear long underwear under my jeans, a t-shirt and sweat shirt, a coat, gloves, and a knit hat. One thing to note is that you will probably sweat under all those clothes.
  • Third, the dry air and sweating under your clothes will dehydrate you as quickly as the summer heat will. Drink plenty of water and drink it often.
  • Speaking of similarities to summer, take regular breaks in a warm place. If you have to stay outside, find a place to set up a heater so that you can get warm.
  • If you start feeling bad, numb, or uncomfortable in some other way, get inside. Those are all your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Listen to it.


4 thoughts on “Ice farming

  1. I hope you are still blogging here. I really enjoy reading. Have a comment or three tonight. I’ve lived with winter my whole life and while it presents certain difficulties, it is still a time to rest. Animals still need care and some days will have me pulling out my hair, but overall I consider winter as a time to rest. All of the earth that is winter-shrouded is resting. The earth takes a break from producing grasses and trees and catches up on other important tasks down below the frost. The plants, including the trees, go to sleep. Even a lot of animals hibernate in winter.
    One of the best things that keeps me going out there with another bucket of liquid (as opposed to solid!) water for the horse is knowing that when I am done with seeing to his needs and comfort, I will for sure get right busy seeing to mine!
    A lovely hot bath, a good book, a seed catalog and dreams of trying out a new variety of tomato next spring … there are no words to describe …
    Be thankful for winter. Among all the difficulties associated with it, there are so many reasons to welcome and cherish her. Winter’s beauty is without parallel. Roses arent the only things we should stop and take a look at. And consider this: those who do not have any winter are not nearly as likely to bother much with a garden. It’s because it is constantly available to them, so it loses its appeal. We who contend with winter cannot wait to see the first crocus, shoot of green grass … we are hungry to get planting! Almost everyone I know plants something. The same is not true of those who live in warmer climes; they are as likely to go buy a hanging basket or two and consider it done.
    For a lot of my life, I had chickens and horses, and a huge garden. We had 3 children, and 5 acres, and we were country people. As in, if potatoes were on the menu, it was 5 pounds of them for a meal. I grew all the vegetables that would grow here and supplied the needs of my entire family, not to mention friends and neighbors. We only bought what we couldnt grow. I did this primarily out of my love for gardening and my concern about the quality of the food I was feeding my family. The love for gardening could easily have been satisfied without doing this, but I believe strongly that good wholesome food is an important building block for health, and that good wholesome food is simply not readily available to those who do not grow it for themselves.
    And incidentally, I live in Canada, well north of the 49th parallel and far west of Ohio. If I lived closer, I would be sorely tempted to pay a visit to you and your farm. I think you are on the right track and that you will fulfil the requirements for the life you desire and the planet you desire. As you say, one step at a time, small steps … and you will never arrive, because it is not a destination, it is a journey. Merry Christmas to you and yours! Connie

  2. I am still writing, Connie, albeit a bit slowly recently. Thank you for your comments and your kind words. If you’re ever down in this neck of the woods, please do stop by. I’d be happy to show you around my little bit of heaven on earth. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.


  3. Well, I don’t know what’s going on in your part of the world, but I am having a pretty strange winter here. We had really mild weather until after Christmas, and very little snow. By mild I mean temps around the 20 F range. THEN it kicked in! We had a real cold snap. Temps -35 F every night for almost 2 weeks and not much warmer in the daytime. After that, temps have returned to fairly mild, and its snowing and blowing with a vengeance. I have been housebound for almost all of this month. I think I got out of here 3 times. I don’t even try when it’s so bitterly cold, and now I am snowed in and the guy who plows my driveway is backed up and may not get here for days. So my truck is parked out on the road right now. I don’t know what the snowplow will do – I guess just go around me. I hope so. For the most part, I am ok, but it’s never very comfortable for me to feel like I couldn’t go if I wanted to. Ah, well, such is life. Hope you’re faring well in Ohio! Connie

  4. Connie, it’s good to hear from you. Ohio’s been mud since the end of November. We’ve had what seems like unending rain and not more than three consecutive days of freezing. Strange weather for us too and nothing like last year at this time when I posted.

    I hope your plow guy can get you out soon. I don’t think there’s a worse feeling than being stuck.


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