Today it is -2 degrees.
It's frickin cold out folks.
If you're like me you have a desk job to go to Monday thru Friday. You freeze the two seconds it takes you to run out and start your vehicle and run back into your warm house to wait for your vehicle to get warm. Then you freeze again in the minute it takes you to walk into your office building. Then, you sit in a toasty office building for nine hours until you then start the same process over again to go home.
Nice, isn't it?
But what you also don't know about me is I have the privilege to spend a lot of time during that Monday thru Friday time frame PLUS a plethora of time during the weekends on the farm. Where I observe first hand what -2 degrees means for the folks working hard to feed the world.
Now, I'm not going to act like I'm the one physically doing all the labor when it's -2 degrees. Because most likely I'm not. I have a demanding job that doesn't allow me to be out there as much as I would like. But, what I will tell you what a day like today is like for a livestock farmer when it's this damn cold.
6:50 am - the farmer gets dressed to brave the cold. This requires multiple layers. One could be mistaken for the Michelin Man instead of a farmer once they are properly dressed for the frigid cold.
7:00 am - waddles outside (it's rather hard to walk let alone move when you are wearing as many layers as it takes to stay warm on days like today) to start up tractors. Most likely, when it is this cold the tractor will break, not start, not run properly, you catch my drift. So, the farmer will have to proceed with a cab-less tractor to get his livestock fed.
7:30 am - after much cussing the tractor and fit throwing, the farmer beings chores (aka feeding the animals.) The farmer mixes a ration of corn, hay, distillers, molasses, and other vitamins and minerals to feed his animals so they are able to stay warm.
9:30 am - the animals are all fed.
9:32 am - the farmer heads back into the feedlots to check all of the livestock to make sure that they are all doing ok and that none of them are sick, and to make sure all the waters are not frozen over so the cattle can drink.
9:35 am - the water tank is frozen over. So, the farmer gets an ice chopper and begins to get jiggy with his water tank and ice chopper.
9:47 am - the water tank is now open. The farmer is now profusely sweating (see above said wardrobe) it gets hot up in all them layers!
10:57 am - all the cattle are checked and water tanks are unfrozen. The farmer starts his pickup to go check his cow herd.
11:06 am - farmer takes off to the pasture to go check cows.
11:16 am - the farmer arrives at the pasture, and finds that one of his best cows has had a calf....26 days early.
Now I must pause here for a visual - the cow is in a open pasture and has a baby, who comes out soaking wet. Realizing that it is -2 degrees outside today, can you imagine how cold that is to a new born baby calf when they hit the ground soaking wet? What a way to enter the world, huh?
11:18 am - farmer picks up said newborn calf with his bare hands and carries him back to his pickup.
Pause for another visual - the calf will weigh anywhere from 85-120 pounds when they are first born. You can imagine how heavy that calf is when it is kicking and squirming to boot.
11:32 am - the farmer has arrived at his pickup with the newborn calf and proceeds to drive home to warm up the poor baby icicle calf.
11:37 am - farmer arrives back at farm and carry's calf inside the house. He begins to raid his wife's bathroom cabinet for all the hairdryers he can find.
11:42 am - farmer has found 4 hair dryers and proceeds to blow dry the calf to warm him up.
1:48 pm - calf is warmed up, dried off, and up and walking around the house. The calf also may have pooped on the wife's brand new carpet. Whoops.
2:12 pm - farmer puts calf back in the pickup (now imagine 120 pounds REALLY kicking and squirming) and takes the warm and dry calf back out to the pasture to meet his mama and get the calf started sucking for milk.
3:30 pm - farmer finally gets the calf to start sucking and takes off for the remaining 4 pastures he has left to check.
4:47 pm - farmer arrives home from checking pastures and cows.
5:01 pm - farmer still has broken tractor and proceeds to start chores in cabless tractor again. Cuss words ensue.
5:08 pm - farmer begins feeding livestock
6:08 pm - farmer has completed chores and proceeds to walk through them all and break up waters, again. Because remember, it's freaking cold.
6:32 pm - farmer arrives in his house to his beautiful bride glaring at him because there is calf poop on her new carpet.
....And with that, I'll leave the rest of this story up to your imaginations. :)
I tell you all this because I hope you remember this story the next time you eat a steak. And I hope you remember to thank a farmer for how hard they work to feed you. And if you are one who believes that farmers mis-treat their animals, I strongly encourage you to visit a farmer when it is -2 degrees and see what lengths they go to to make sure a baby calf lives.