Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Winter is here

Today it was 10 degrees outside.  It was so cold that when I went running my phone shut off.  When I returned to the car and plugged it in, it gave me an alert I'd never seen before - a thermometer and an exclamation point.  It was fine for humans, but TOO COLD for a phone!  I guess I need a phone that's made for Michigan.

When it's cold, it increases the chances of things going wrong on the farm.  The machines always need extra special attention.  Today, the waterers tried to freeze, but we were able to fix it.  When there's snow, there's always extra plowing.

We're about to start feeding the cows the snaplage (corn cob and husk ground up) that we harvested this fall.  We're basically trying to keep everything running smoothly every day, without a ton of extras ... those can wait for warmer weather!

Of course weather is always the biggest variable in this business.  The farmers in New Mexico and Texas just dealt with a horrible blizzard that killed an estimated 30,000 dairy cows:

LUBBOCK, Tex. — After a mild and dry Christmas Day, a fierce blizzard whipped across the rolling plains of West Texas and eastern New Mexico. The wind blew mercilessly for 48 hours, leaving snow drifts as high as 14 feet.

Though winter storms are not strangers to this region, the unrelenting wind — sometimes gusting to 80 miles per hour — and blinding snow of this blizzard surpassed even the most dire of forecasts. Dairy farmers in the region, who produce 10 percent of the milk in the United States, are now tallying their losses.

So far, more than 35,000 dairy cows have been found dead; many other animals developed frostbite and could still die. In West Texas, about 10 percent of the adult herd was lost. Farmers are trying to decide how to dispose of the carcasses that dot the landscape, though others might not be found until the snow melts.

“It was just beyond anything we ever saw,” said Nancy Beckerink, who moved her dairy farm, Dutch Road Dairy, to Muleshoe, Tex., from western New York six years ago to escape the harsh winters of the Northeast. Her dairy lost 300 of its 2,200 cows, and Ms. Beckerink said she might lose 50 to 75 more to frostbite.

You can read the rest here.
We're thinking especially of my family that dairy farms in New Mexico.  Everyone knew it was coming and prepared for it, but some blizzards you just can't beat.  We wish everyone well in their recovery.

We're hoping for a mild winter, of course.  The animals, the people, the machines, and even the phones prefer it that way.

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