My Butt is Frozen

Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)

When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.

The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.

The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.

When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.

As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.

Adventures with Atticus: A Horse of a Different Color

When Atticus came to us in July he was a light rusty color, but as winter approaches, he has become a horse of a different color. Not only has his winter coat added a deeper hue, but his mane has really grown out from its previous roaching, and Atticus looks like an equine rock star with his mohawk mane.

It seems the darker shade of his hair has also brought out a slightly more somber attitude in my sweet boy. After accompanying Hubby on a hunting trip in Colorado, Atticus came back without the willingness to ride. Of course, I was greatly concerned. Hubby told me that twice Atticus stopped when they were riding up the mountain and simply would not go. Hubby had to get off and lead him. (This defeated the purpose of taking a horse to the mountains and did not bode will with the hunting party.) When I attempted to ride him on the farm, Atticus calmly allowed me to groom and saddle him but would NOT budge once I was in the saddle.

Atticus checking Winn-Dixie out.

No amount of kissing, clicking, or kicking could get him to go. We even tried baiting him by separating him from his girlfriend Winn-Dixie. Atticus couldn’t have cared less that my daughter rode Winn-Dixie out of the corral and out of sight. I hopped off, did some ground work with him, jumped back on, and still no steps would he take. I led him to the top of the pasture meeting up with my patiently waiting daughter and Winn-Dixie. Back in the saddle I went, but nowhere was Atticus willing to walk. Eventually, we ponied him back to the corral with Winn-Dixie.

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