Upon awaking this morning (at 6:00 A.M., courtesy of the kiddos) my husband and I began preparing for a long morning of chores in the cold. Basically, this consisted of an incredibly unhealthy breakfast of pancakes from a mix and an unidentified smoked meat sausage, and also a healthy dose of whining about how cold it is and how unfair it is that I should have to go help with chores when it is so cold. 30 degrees? Great! I'm there! However, our digital thermometer read "OFL." Although we are unsure of exactly what this means, Danish Cowboy and I have our own theories which I can't repeat here. Vulgarity just is not a part of ranch life. At least public ranch life anyway. We are pretty certain the temperature was somewhere at -30 degrees F, which is quite cold.
We donned our winter gear with Kevin and the kids choosing coveralls, mittens, snowboots, face masks and other such appropriate attire. I, being tough and slightly stupid, chose a much more fashionable approach to feeding: a North Face jacket, a Bula hat, REI gloves, and black plastic muck boots with one thin pair of socks. And may I note that my Gap jeans had a very cool hole in them on the knee. I looked great! This would come to haunt me in approximately 1 and 1/2 hours. We headed to the hay yard to feed five bales of hay, each weighing approximately 1200 pounds and consisting of either grass-alfalfa or hay barley.As the girls do every morning in winter, they patiently milled around the hay yard, waiting for the hay to appear like magic. We set the first bale on the ground and they dove in. These are some tough cows. -30 degrees and still moving after a night out on the prairie? You have to give them a little credit. The frost on their backs usually disappears as they eat and warm themselves up. Danish cowboy is in the background, rolling the hay out with the tractor. And to think that some ranchers feed their cows absolutely nothing in the cold winter months!The kids have started to become regulars at feeding time, never wanting to miss a trip outside. Apparently a love for tractors can start at a very early age.Danish Cowboy's grandfather homesteaded on this site in a little wood shack with two coal-fired stoves. No insulation, no electric blankets, no hot cocoa on a cold wintery night. The strength of our forebears never fails to amaze me.I like to think she's saying "Thank You." You're welcome, #825. We left the cows munching peacefully on their hay, with the sun shining brightly on their backs, soon to melt the frost and provide a little relief for this cold day (-9.6 degrees at 1:30 P.M.)
And as I said before, my fashionable chore attire was soon to bite me in the butt. We went off to feed my precious (oh so precious!) horses and the bulls. As we opened the gate, the ponies took off. And not just a few feet. They ran a mile away, noses in the air, tails flying like banners in the wind. So beautiful until I realized that I would be the one that would have to get them in because when I'm around they become my horses. So I caught them and proceeded to walk a mile back to their pasture while Danish Cowboy enjoyed a Diet Coke and maybe a hot toddie and some eggnog. My kneecap, so stylishly exposed earlier, became dangerously close to being frost bitten. About halfway home I wondered if they would have to amputate the whole leg from frost bite or if they could just amputate the kneecap. I couldn't see by the time I shut the gate because my eyelashes had frosted over.I decided that for the moment, but only for this brief moment, house life was a better fit for me. So I retreated to home for tea and to bake the ugliest and scariest holiday cookies. Ever. And not a single soul felt sorry for me and my cold kneecap all day long.