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Friday, January 12, 2018
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Cold and Snow, with More on the Way


by Bev Berens

Published: Friday, January 12, 2018

January sure came in with a blast, a blast of arctic air and snow that is. Of course, that comes as no surprise to all of us in the Great Lakes region who have been living it, one day at a time.

Frozen pipes in the home and barns, frozen water tanks, frozen hands and feet, dead batteries, more snow to plow—it's just a matter of trudging through those days, until you can thaw out with comfort food in a warm home, preparing to repeat the process the next day.

The Farmers Almanac says we are in for a break the middle of the month, and the local weather forecast agrees. We will all get a chance to regroup, thaw out and stock up for the next round, which Mr. Almanac says is coming the first two weeks of February. (Hint, buy your Valentine chocolate early. The stores are already stocked and ready for you.) We shall see if the forecast is on target or if we receive a curve ball, after which we will loudly complain that you can't really predict the weather anyway.

Our livestock take a bigger hit when the thermometer plunges. Their bodies work best at utilizing feed for maintenance and production when the temperatures outside don't require them to burn body fat to stay warm. For a baby calf, that is about 40 degrees F. Extra milk will keep her growing and her immune system working. Full-grown cattle can take colder temperatures without extra calories as long as they are out of the wind and have a dry place to lie down. But anywhere below 5 degrees probably demands some extra diet energy to keep them from losing body condition. Don't forget about any goats, poultry, horses, hogs, dogs or cats that live in the outdoors. They need plenty of dry straw bedding, shelter, water and a place to get out of the wind too.

We humans may think we need some extra calories in the winter to stay warm. Personally, I could burn energy a long time from the cold before I waste away, but some of you have that ripped metabolism that keeps burning calories instead of storing, so a few extra in the deep freeze is just what you need. Regardless, a hot bowl of chili, warm corn bread, coffee and a warm piece of pie is just the remedy for any caloric deficiency, either real or perceived, this time of year.

In the end, winter will end. Humans and livestock will shed their winter coats and the weather talk will turn to hot topics like spring planting, which of course, is another weather dependent and debatable subject. Keep your hats and jackets close by, we will get through the winter yet again. Be warm and safe, friends!

Bev Berens is a mom to 4-H and FFA members in Michigan. Do you have a story to share? Email her at uphillfarm494@yahoo.com.

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