I think it’s safe to say that we are officially deep into the thick of winter. Extreme cold warnings, and finally a winter storm, have kept many people cuddled up under the blankets, or hanging out beside the wood stove. Or you’ve had to layer up and head outside to dig through layers of snow to get to work.
Farmers, like those in many other job professions, have no choice but to face the elements of winter. The cows can’t milk and feed themselves, so we suck it up, put on 10 layers of clothes and find our way to the barn. Some of us just have to plow through a few feet of snow on foot, while others have to shovel through a few feet to get their car out to drive to the barn. No matter the struggle, we find our way there, because our animals need us. It’s one of the grueling, yet still rewarding, realities of farm life.
When it’s -36 C outside, you won’t find too many barns that don’t look like a sauna, but feel like an icebox. Because of the extreme differences in temperatures between outside and in, fog streams in through any little crack in the ceiling and walls. Whenever someone opens a door to go into the feed room or outside, gusts of cold air and fog rush in. You can barely see two feet in front of you at times. The frost collects around the window and door frames, seeping in through the cracks, glittery and cold. Mother Nature truly can create some pretty magnificent art pieces, if you choose to see them that way.
Being miserable about having to work in the extreme cold temperatures only makes it that much harder. Viewing circumstances we can’t control, but have to work through with a more positive, creative outlook, can sometimes be what you need to help warm your bones. Layers and layers of clothing helps with that too. Eight layers to get to work, five while we’re milking, and then ten to go out and feed the frosty faces that are hungry for milk and grain. I pray I don’t drop something, because bending in half is next to impossible, but at least I’m warm enough. I can soak in some of the vitamin D the bright sunlight gives, through the slit between my scarf and hat.
On these cold, crisp, clear days, take a look out your window, or slow your car down to take in the smoke rising from chimneys, billowing up into the sky. A calming sight against the beautiful clear blue or colourful sunset backdrop, that is the sky above us. A sky that offers so much wonder, mystery, beauty and also frustration. All characteristics which layer together to create the Canadian winters we either love or hate.
No matter what your feelings about winter are, we can’t change Mother Nature’s Day to day plans for us, all we can do is make the most of it! So, layer up in your warmest clothes, and get outside, even if it’s just for ten minutes. Go sliding or skating with your little ones, go for a walk, snowshoe or ski, or zip around on your sled.
Whatever your favourite winter activities may be, don’t be afraid to get out and do them!