Farming in Extreme Cold

Man it has been cold here lately!! We have been on a week long streak of subzero temperatures. I am totally blaming the cold weather for my lack of blogging lately. So sorry that I don’t have a free teacher resource post this week. I was hoping to do Garden in a Glove, but it has been so darn cold, that I haven’t even wanted to venture out to get the supplies for the project.

On Monday we woke up to this:

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There are no words on how cold that is… Actually once you get past -10 degrees, everything just feels the same: freaking cold.

Our hens have not been allowed to go outside. I am sure they would like to free range a little, but their poor chicken feet would get frostbite. Instead, they are tucked under their heat lamp in our hen house.

Our cows don’t have too much to complain about. They have a sand bedded building which they have free access too. When the building is full of cows it is actually very balmy in there. One of our main issues is that we have no indoor area to feed them. So the cows must leave their “beach” to ¬†go outside and eat. As you can expect, they will eat less, so this can reduce their milk production. But they are relaxing more.

A concern that we have for our cows is frostbite on the teats. This can happen when the udder is not dried completely or they make a bad choice and lay in manure. This is what a good udder looks like:

extreme cold, mn, minnesota, family farm, organic

The udder is tinted blue from the dip we use at the end of milking to protect them from frostbite and infection. It is very similar to the lotion skiers put on their faces to protect them from windburn.

This is what a frostbit udder looks like:
minnesota, mn, family farm, organic, extreme weather

Ouch! This girl made a bad choice and didn’t stay in the sand bedded building. So since, she cannot make wise choices on her own, we are now keeping her inside at night. She and three other cows who haven’t learned will keep the barn warm. When her udder heals, she will be allowed to go back out again.

Our milking parlor can get quite cold too. We make sure to warm up the teat dip we use to the clean the cows udders in a bucket of hot water.

extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

If I was a cows, I certainly would like the teat dip heated up first instead of it being cold.

Some cows have built in udder warmers.

extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

This particular cow is a Normade breed. They are pretty hardy cattle and do well in our herd, for obvious reasons.

We farmers need to be kept warm too.

milk parlor heater, extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

This heater also prevents any spilled milk from freezing on the stairs and causing a dangerous situation.

By Wednesday, the temperatures had improved a lot.

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Boo and Lilly, our farm dogs, even got new beds this week. They are all fancy and raised off the floor.

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Are you experiencing cold weather where you are? How do you keep warm?


3 thoughts on “Farming in Extreme Cold

  1. Mike McCarty

    We heat our hen houses all winter with propane heaters. One has a radiant heater, the other has a forced air furnace. Without supplemental heat they will eat more feed to maintain their body temperature. The propane is cheaper than the extra feed they would eat. Letting the temp drop just 15 degrees means an extra ton of layer feed each month for 2500 hens. A ton of organic layer feed is running around $650. I can buy a lot of propane for $650… Even in the coldest month I spend less than half that heating a house to a constant 60 degs.

  2. Mark Olson

    Hi emily and family.
    My wife just showed me your website and blog. I love it!

    I know I am commenting on a post from a year ago, but it still is relevant.

    This winter of 2013-2014 makes last winter look balmy.

    We too are self employed in a outdoor business. I am a remodeling contractor in white bear lake, and my wife is my total support system in all areas of the business. I could relate totally to this post about the freezing cold. I think we are on day 20 or so where my guys either did not work at all or started very late. Our trigger to not work is about 10 below or a windchill of about 25 below. even at that nothing gets done anywhere close to the time it should.

    I will continue to follow you and your family into 2014. We have a wonderful thing in common, faith in a wonderful God!