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I'm Tired of Ice; Bring on the Mud

written by

Carole Soule

posted on

January 27, 2024

I'm now a life coach and can help you bring calm into your life.
Click here
, and I'll show you how to bring magic into your life.


The plastic wrap on the huge hay bale was frozen, and so were my fingers. I had removed my gloves to use my knife to slice the wrap, and now my fingers hurt. Husband Bruce got out of the Mahindra tractor to help me, the one-woman ground crew, release the 1,000-pound round bale from its plastic wrap and feed it to the cattle. In a prolonged arctic blast, the cattle need hay, lots of hay, to generate energy and stay warm.

Water for Cows

Besides food, livestock need water to survive cold temperatures, so we check water when we aren't feeding hay. Cattle don't need as much water in winter as in summer, but they must drink enough to digest the extra hay.

When the temperatures stay frigid for so long, even water heaters can't thaw freezing water. We check three troughs at least twice a day, and sometimes, after I break up the ice, I heat the water with "The Salamander." That's the brand name of our kerosene-burning heater, but it amuses me to call it by name as if an exotic creature is being called in to help my cows.

I check the cattle daily, mostly the young stock, for shivering. If a calf is shivering, it needs help. Adult cattle with plenty of food and water can handle the cold, but I still check them for shivering or odd behavior. Cows that don't show interest in food or separate themselves from the herd can be in trouble even if they are not shivering. So far this year, I haven't seen any shivering cows or calves, but I've felt the cold!

Ground Hog Day

Encouragement is needed, and when the bitter cold seems never-ending, here comes Groundhog Day! Feb. 2 is midway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. It's when groundhogs supposedly emerge from their burrows, and if the weather is sunny and they are frightened by their shadows, they dive back into their holes, and winter persists for six more weeks. It's a Pennsylvania Dutch superstition. Over the years, Punxsutawney Phil has become the celebrity groundhog, and all eyes are on him.

For farmers with critters to feed, Feb. 2 has great significance in the adage: "Half your hay by Ground Hog Day," meaning if you've used more than half your hay, you will probably run out. We are right on schedule.

Miles Smith Farm is surviving the winter, but here's hoping Punxsutawney Phil forecasts an early spring. Slogging through the early spring mud seems like more fun than dancing with ice.

Coach Carole

Coach Carole's Words of Wisdom: Don't worry about what you can't change. Embrace happiness even if it means dancing with ice.

I'm now a life coach and can help you bring calm into your life.
Click here
, and I'll show you how to bring magic into your life.

* * *
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, where she raises and sells beef, pork, eggs, and other local products. She can be reached at Carole also coaches humans, helping them achieve the impossible one step at a time.

life coach

cow coach

water for cows

winter on the farm

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