January 21st, 2015 by Ed Bruske
About the worst thing that can happen in the depths of January is a two-day thaw accompanied by heavy rains. As sure as day follows night, all that lovely snow will be melted away only to turn into a sheet of ice when temperatures return to sub-freezing normal.
With the right gear, I manage to carry on. With metal cleats strapped to the bottom of my boots, I deliver food and water to the animals. With the miracle of studded tires, I can easily get up and down the driveway in the pickup.
I tread carefully over the gleaming surface of the farm, looking for areas of texture in the ice because even metal cleats have difficulty gaining purchase. Believe it or not, the livestock are just as bedeviled as we humans. Cow and sheep slip and slide on their way from paddock to feeding stations. Emily, the pregnant heifer, normally skips and runs when sees her bucket of grain coming. These days she picks her way on tip-toes ever so carefully.
I’ve found a new guilty pleasure watching the chickens emerge from their coop in the morning. Unsuspecting, they take wing toward their feeder, only find no traction when they land. They fall on their butts and slide, scrambling on cartoon legs to get erect again.
With so much winter still ahead of us, there’s no telling how long we’ll be stuck in this position. Just remember these images next time the mercury reads -15 and you find yourself yearning for warmer days: careful what you wish for.