The first snow of the season has arrived, and it’s beginning to look a lot like…winter on the farm.
What does winter on a farm look like you ask? Well, first and foremost, it looks cold if the word cold were able to have a look about it.
On the family farm, cold looks like blankets of snow shrouding the prairie while a howling wind sweeps across the land kicking up snowdust. We always knew when it was officially winter on the farm because our animals donned their shaggy winter coats and Al (dad Farmer Girl) donned his ski mask, long handles’ and bib overalls.
And by the way, long handle is my father’s term for long johns. I could tell you that long-handles is a country word, but I’ve actually never heard anyone else use the term. Methinks it could be a mashup of Kansas country talk and Missouri Ozarkian vernacular. Regardless, long handles are a must.
Our cattle roam the wide prairie, nosing up good grass. You might be asking yourself, what do farm animals eat in the winter?
What you should really be asking yourself is what do farm animals drink during the winter months?
Access to flowing water is an ongoing battle in the winter on a farm. When the weather turns bitter cold, pipes on automatic waterers burst, ponds freeze over, and cattle can get quite thirsty.
When I was in high school, I was left as “head-gal-in-charge” on the winter farm over a weekend while my parents traveled. It was blistering cold and a layer of ice draped over all inanimate objects.
Of course, as fate would have it, during my watch all of the waterers froze and stopped running. That’s bad… there’s no water for the cattle. So how does a farmer girl get good water to her wards? She fetches an ax and heads down to the pond. And yep, I traversed onto the frozen pond and chopped a hole in the ice by the bank for the cattle to drink from.
Then, like every other average teenage girl in the city or on the farm, I went back to the house and gabbed on the phone about boys and clothes.
Now, as a city parent, sending my daughter to the back forty to chop pond ice, alone, seems, well, CRAZY! But, I must say that these types of farm experiences have instilled a good bit of self-sufficiency and practicality in me. And I believe these are universal traits among farm kids–sometimes it can be hard to shake us up.
There are many situations in my modern city life where I want to shout: “Just chop a hole in the pond people and keep your wits about you! You’ll be fine!” Especially to my children, when they cry whoa-is-me about low-risk events. Just chop a hole in the pond and keep your wits about you my lovies! Really, life can be as simple as that, no?
For your enjoyment and hilarity, I’ve included two pics of my childhood on the farm.
That’s a real-live sleigh ride happening there, and if you look closely you’ll see that the sleigh’ is actually the hood of a truck. Nice!
And, can’t you just feel the holiday spirit emanating from my sisters and I as we lounge in front of the fireplace? No, your eyes do not deceive you, we are all sporting the same haircut. My mother was sold on the ‘mother-daughter cut’ and never looked back. Short in the front for mom, long in the back for daughter.
Perhaps this is why we look so happy? I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday, full of joy and good meat. Remember to check out the recipes on the farmergirlmeats.com blog for yummy dishes!