Slow Learner


It was -19° F this morning at 4 AM but is due to rise to 17° above by lunchtime. My joy at this prospect is an illustration of Selden’s Theory of Relativity. In the fall, 17° F feels glacial and bleak. By February, 17° seems so warm one wants to celebrate and look around for daffodils.

However, this will be a brief respite. The current cold front is supposed to hover over these mountains for another few days. (Predicted high of 3° on Friday.)

In the photo above, you can see a sack of grain just dumped out of its bag. You will notice it still retains the shape of the bag. The molasses in the sweet feed has frozen and it is a giant solid loaf.

These frozen bags are tough for me to hoist and carry, especially when the feed man forgets and stacks them on the floor of the grain shed instead of on the waist-high shelf. Reaching forward into the little shed and lifting a large, ungainly fifty-pound dead weight from the floor is murder on my back.

(“Tough on my back, too,” said the delivery boy when I mentioned this. I agreed: “I’m sure, and I’m sorry, but of course I’m thirty years older than you are.” “You’re not thirty years older!” “I’m fifty-five.” A silence. “Oh. Hmm! Twenty-five years older.” He stacked the bags on the shelf.)

To serve this frozen grain I’ve been known to hit the mass with a hammer to break it into chunks. I scrape at it with the serving can. I bash it with my gloved fists.

This week I made an amazingly simple discovery. If I carry a bag of grain into the tack room in the evening, the CTUs (cattle thermal units) trapped in the barn will thaw it overnight. Oh my goodness. I have been dealing with frozen grain for many years and I have just figured this out.

In my mind I could hear my dear friend Allen insisting stoutly, “You ain’t really dumb!”

DH took this photo of me heading out to the barn in my base layers, prepared for the cold. I’m wearing my jeans, long-sleeve t-shirt, turtleneck, sweatshirt, hat, fleece neck-warmer, and insulated coveralls. Still to come are the padded vest, barn jacket, and gloves.

You’ll notice the warm bottle of milk in my pocket — just in case. There has been a lull in the lambing action, but it always pays to be prepared.


3 Responses to Slow Learner

  1. Missy says:

    Glad you’re enjoying your warm respite. We are expecting up to 300mm of rain in the next 2 days (and im really hoping no flood!) but it just goes to show the weather is crazy world wide. I like your outfit. You look snugly and warm.

  2. Missy says:

    How could you hang out with cows and not be dirty? I never can. I have a friend who used to get ready for work, (heels and suit/dress), drive 50m up the road, get out, climb through the fence, milk her Jersey, wash her hands, climb back through the fence, get back in the car and continue on to work. I think that’s a superhuman talent.
    Hope your day is great!

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