Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Polar Vortex Continues

The cold, snowy and below average temperatures continue here in Northeast Ohio. A few weeks ago, I wrote about winter at our farm. I was hoping we saw the last of the polar vortex for this season, but its back this week! Today, temperatures won’t get above zero. When factoring in wind-chill, it feels even colder. Our low temperature today, with wind-chill, is -30 degrees.

Here are some scenes from the last few days. . .

The warmest place on the farm is the milking parlor because the cows are giving off heat and we have a heater in there to keep people warm while working. . .
This curious cow is done milking, but continues to hang out in the milking parlor
The cows are milked 3 times/day regardless of the weather
The cows head back to their barn after milking
The bulk milk tanks are covered in snow and ice
The dedicated milk truck drivers have one of the most challenging jobs braving winter roads
The milk truck comes to the farm daily to pick up milk. Our farm is located on a hill with a steeper than normal driveway. In the winter, the driveway can get snowy and icy which makes it difficult for the milk truck and feed trucks. There are times when we need to tow trucks up the hill using a large tractor. In fact, my husband Lad was at the dairy at 3:30am pulling the milk truck up the hill.

The guys brave the weather to feed the cows and calves. . .

Richard getting ready to deliver feed to the cows
Ricardo loads milk to take to the baby calves

The animals stay warm inside barns with soft and warm bedding to relax on. . .
The curtains and doors are closed on the barn to keep the cold wind and snow out
These side curtains are closed now but will go up when the weather gets warmer
Curtains protect the calf pen too
The cows keep warm in the maternity pen
This friendly heifer greets me in the barn

When it’s cold, tractors and equipment in the milking parlor freezes and can stop working. Water troughs freeze and need to be thawed. The barns get icy so cows can slip, fall and get hurt. Manure freezes making it difficult to move it out of the barns. 

One of the challenges freezing temperatures bring are frozen water troughs. . .
Ice water anyone?
Lad breaks up the ice in this water trough so the cows can drink

The cold bothers the people and equipment more than the cows. . .
Jose and Lad chat
Cows grow a thicker hair coat in the winter to keep their bodies warm
Snow covered equipment is a common scene on the farm
The low temperatures and snow bring additional challenges to animals, people and equipment on the farm. The cows need care 24/7 regardless of the weather. They need to be milked and fed. Their barns need to be cleaned. Cows have calves on the farm daily. Sometimes animals require medical treatment.

Thanks to the dedicated staff at our farm for all they do to care for animals everyday. And to the service providers who pick up milk, deliver feed, come to fix equipment and deliver products regardless of the weather.

Anyone else wishing for an early spring? 

Farmers, and cows, share their experience with the Polar Vortex:
Dairy Cows Interviewed On Surviving Polar Vortex at The Udder Side
We Survived the Snowpocalypse at The Dairyman's Blog
January in Ohio = COLD!!! at Down on the Farm

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