Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

A Love Letter to Northern Farmgirls (and Boys)

Farm Photo - Snow covered porch
Not quite primetime for porch sitting, but so pretty before it’s covered in paw prints.

Texans are tough, and boy are we a proud bunch, but I have to give it up to my Northern farmgirls (and boys). How do you do it all winter long through snow and ice and wind?

As predicted, February pulled old man winter from its bag of tricks this week and sent us plunging to below freezing temperatures. (Yes, from all Texans we are deeply sorry for all of our tweets, Facebook posts, and other musings about how it is 70 degrees this winter and we are sitting on the porch while you are bundled from head to toe.)

Before I was a farmgirl, the cold was just an irritant, but thanks to the modern invention of central heat and air, totally doable. However, while heat is a requirement on the farm, it’s not enough to just sit inside and drink hot chocolate. Those critters need fed.

One of my hearty Midwest friends asked me, “Do you even have clothes for this?” Kind of. Layers of flannel pajamas, jeans, hoodies, coats, scarves, and gloves are all piled on until we wobble out to the great white winter to do chores. Hey, we weeble, we wobble, but we sure hope we don’t fall down. (You kids from the ‘70s and ‘80s know what I mean, and if not, here’s a refresher.) I’m sure we are a site.

Horse Photo - Ranger in the snow
Ranger was stirring up trouble today. He loves the cold and chasing his fellow buds. (But look at that mane!! If you look closely, you can even see his mustang brand.)

Even more exciting, our critters become like toddlers in the snow. They love it. We’ve got horses chasing each other through the pasture, and dogs (a.k.a Maybelle) running crazy laps around the yard. It’s all fun and games for 15 minutes at a time, because this farm mamma starts to shiver after that. Pathetic, I know.

On top of it, if you are a Northerner and you watch any of our local TV channels you will probably truly find yourself rolling on the floor laughing (or crying, it’s that silly). We’ve got reporters bundled like the Michelin Man out on freeways and parking lots scrapping up a half an inch of ice and labeling it delightful things like “icemageddon.” Seriously, people?

If you must know the truth, even us locals cringe a little when we watch the media spectacle, especially when the national news comes on and we see folks in Boston. Holy cats – that is some serious snow and winter. And with that realization, we will say thank you for our little touch of winter. Our two days where we are homebound and schools are closed. The knowledge that we’ll be above freezing before the week’s end, and likely by next week we’ll be back out on the porch.

So to my Northern farmgirls (and boys), my hats off to you. I see you digging out, resilient and determined to push forward. You are feeding, watering, and mucking your herds with valor. Making it work for good no matter what. I’ve seen horse rescues and folks going out of their way to make sure all critters great and small are taken care of. You guys are tough! From our farmtastic life to yours, we raise a glass of sweet tea and say you go, girl (and guy). You are amazing. We pray your spring flowers will be there soon, and you too can sit a spell on your porches.

P.S. – Just one request. You might be sending this letter back to me in August when it’s sweltering.  We are Texan tough when it comes to summertime.

Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

Baby It’s Cold Outside

I’ve always preferred the heat to the cold.  Now that I have large animals, I can say with absolute certainty that I prefer the heat.  All for one simple reason – cold equals frozen water troughs and buckets.

Luckily in the Texas hill country we don’t deal with long winters or even winter temperatures that last for weeks on end.  And maybe in some ways that makes it worse, as we simply never get used to it.  Now for my northern friends, you are probably laughing your heads off, and rightly so, at my cold weather wimpiness.  All I have to say is let’s talk the next time you have to deal with 100 degrees.  But I digress …

My biggest farmgirl challenge yet came when we had a winter spell the kept us below freezing for three days straight and included snow and ice.  Luckily I am far enough past this incident now that I can actually chuckle about it, but holy moly it tested my farmgirl fortitude.

During this spell I would bundle up like the Michelin man for each trip outdoors. I’m talking layers of shirts, sweatshirts, long johns, gloves, hats, and scarves.  If I could manage to use it for warmth, I piled it on.  Oh and of course I was donning my pink rubber boots.  One other thing you should know about me, grace is not my middle name.  So if there is a way to trip or find a clumsy moment, I will find it.  So outside I go, to do my chores.

Let’s just say when the horses and donkeys see you coming, they come running.  They think it’s feed time, treat time, or just pet me time.  And as any farmgirl does, I absolutely love doting on my babies.  But when I’m freezing and sliding around, big animals with even the best intentions can be a tricky situation.  But, I did my best to give them some loving.  (I also didn’t help my cause by sliding around with a camera trying to capture these snowy moments in hopes of getting that perfect Christmas card shot.)

To top chore time off, during this time, our outside water faucets had frozen.  So no big deal, you say?  Wrong.  While I’d added heaters to my horse water troughs I had no way to keep refilling them.  Okay scratch that, I had no easy way to refill them.

If you can,  picture a clumsy, bundled up farmgirl carrying buckets of water from inside to outside and dumping them into horse buckets.  Over and over and over again.  And in case you’ve never carried a bucket of water while skating across the ice, it’s a messy proposition and not all of it makes it to the bucket.  Horses sure can suck down some water.

Oh, and scooping in the ice and snow?  Equally not as fun.  I did not become an ice skater for a reason.

But the good news is that I made it.  And boy did I feel like I had a cowgirl up kind of moment. I was so proud that I could take care of my critters and find a way to keep them full and hydrated.  But I’ll be honest, I was none to sad when the ice and snow melted, and most of all when the faucets thawed.  I’ll take Texas summers anytime.  (I’ll re-read this post in August to remind myself when it’s 106 degrees in the shade.)

Smokey, Cowboy's mustang, wandering through the cold and posing for the perfect picture!
Smokey, Cowboy’s mustang, wandering through the cold and posing for the perfect picture!