Twenty-Six Below Zero

It’ 4 AM and -26° F. The apartment electric heaters are roaring non-stop. I think of my friends who heat with wood and hope they didn’t have to get up too often last night to cram logs in their stoves.

Today I am driving a former colleague down to Albany for a medical treatment. I don’t have a lot of skills but over the years I have learned how to find my way around on the road. Driving to new places does not intimidate me (unless it’s in New York City, and then I prefer to give up and take a cab). The family is stressed and tired, and driving is something easy and practical I can do to help.

I have printed out directions and packed a lunch. I will do my barn chores at 5:15 AM in the dark and then come home to shower and change.

I haven’t yet decided if I will leave the animals in the barn for the day. It is supposed to warm up into the low 20s.  Yesterday it was -16° F and windy; the temperature only rose to 5°. I left the animals in until noon, when it hit 0°. However, today I will not be back until 3 PM. In winter that is almost dusk.

My concerns are for Opie, my bull calf, and Birch, Lucy’s aged gelding. Babies and geriatrics don’t do well in severe cold.

With the trapped body heat from all the livestock, the temperature in the barn will probably hover around -10° this morning. That’s still very chilly for an infant. I will let Opie have a big feed of milk this morning and then will probably leave everyone inside. They will be bored but safe, munching hay.


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