Frigid temps make dairy farmers struggle

So I was reading a joke the other day about the day the Creator decided to bless the world with a magnificent land called Minnesota (with emphasis placed on the “o” sound).

There was an archangel assisting and he was concerned with why the Creator was being so very generous with this land and its people. Minnesotans were being granted gifts of awesome lakes with plenty of tasty fish, prairies with tall grasses, fertile soils that grow abundant crops and, of course, “Minnesota Nice.”

I’m guessing the green-eyed archangel was from Iowa.

The Creator assured the Iowegian archangel that he shouldn’t be so bothered. Not every item in Minnesota was going to be magnificent and celebrated in this beautiful place.

Minnesota was going to get one doozy of a winter, every year for eternity!

Apparently this joke is no longer a joke, for it has become our reality. This past week of ugly winter weather has proven it to me.

Monday, for morning chores, I looked like the Michelin Man. Although, I think he has a smile on his face at all times even though he has the body shape of a Bartlett pear.

I can assure you, I was not smiling Monday morning in the sub-zero temperatures. I find no gratification from looking like an odd-shaped piece of light-green fruit.

I can tolerate winter weather, as long as I can stay indoors. I keep reminding myself that January is just about over and February is just around the corner. (Each year I think of Joey’s baptism in early May of 1994. I wore a short sleeve shirt with a polka dot skirt.)

The winter makes for added work for dairy farmers. I mean, like I actually have to cook meals to maintain our body fat for warmth. (By the way, have you heard the latest? If you gain weight after you’re married, it means you are in love! I must be captivated with Steve!)

First off, we change teat dips we use on the cows after they are done milking. If we send them outside in the cold, with wet teats, well, they come back in the following day with frozen teats. Teatcicles?

Teatcicles are not a good thing. The cows don’t usually recover in milk production and it looks rather painful. During frigid weather we use white-powder dip on the cows. It has a consistency of baking powder, but with all the antibacterial components and stuff.

We also have to take care of that winter hazard called ice.

The bottoms of cows’ hooves are smooth as my laminate counter top, which makes for trouble when there is snow and ice. To prevent injury, we spread fine sand down the entire walkway. From the compost barn down to the holding area by the milking parlor we use the skid loader to shake sand on the ground. It’s a sports-bra demanding job. Ugh.

Also, in the holding area, every morning and night, we spread barn lime on the floor, because that gets fairly icy during the winter and causes a lot of issues with the cows staying upright on all four feet. It’s mitten-demanding job, the scoop is stainless steel.

We haven’t had a cow fall yet this winter; knock on wood.

Water barrels tend to freeze up as well. Most of our waterers are heated, but there is one that is just a small plastic barrel that is filled with fresh water each morning. The other day, Russell rolled the frozen barrel from the calving barn to the milk house, so the ice would melt. It’s our version of Hoop Rolling; you should see Russell’s biceps. I may need to start this chore. Maybe then Russell wouldn’t giggle at my biceps when I pump them up.

Our precious little calves, especially the Jersey calves, will get a nice calf coat to wear for warmth. Calf coats work just like a dog coat. In fact, the Jersey calves actually wear an extra-large dog coat. The Holsteins get a legit calf coat; they’re big like that.

I don’t know but after all the extra work I have written about, I am tired and I’m thinking that Iowegian archangel has a little too much pull with the Creator.

I bet Iowegian dairy farmers don’t work as hard during the cold winter as a Minnesotan dairy farmer.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at

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