From the tip of my frozen nose to the bottoms of my frozen feet, I feel for those goat farmers who live farther north then I do. Even our southern goat farmers can get an artic blast every now and then and I really feel for them because they usually donít have the layers of warm clothes waiting in storage to get out. All of us northern frozen goat farmers have articles of clothing just meant for those cold times.
Me, I have this coat. Well, it use to look like a coat. Itís original shape is just a memory now. Itís my very favorite winter coat. It covers my hips, going mid thigh, and absolutely loaded with pockets. When I buy a farm coat it has to be long and have pockets everywhere. I am always "packing", ready for anything that might happen on a goat farm. I have eye ointment in the upper left breast pocket, along with permanent magic markers for marking goats, spare needles for shots. The right breast pocket has surgical gloves, walkie talkie for keeping in touch with Lee, digital thermometer. The right bottom front pocket has syringes, winter glove, tissues for me or the goats. The left bottom front pocket has more tissues, another winter glove, some type of spare medicine for the goats, and all the pockets have to have enough room to carry bottles for bottle babies, or room to carry a peanut butter jar that has Albon in it for coccidiosis treatments, if needed at that time. Plus, spare goat collars for catching and restraining goats. Oh! And, my beloved little flashlight that I carry at all times. Northern winter goat farmers find themselves in the dark a lot in the cold winter evenings. Couldnít do without my flashlight. It is always with me.
Hats. Very important in the northern winters. None of this, "Oh, my, I just canít mess up my do." business, youíve got to stay warm and healthy to keep caring for those goats. Get a hat, a nice wooly hat. If need be, get what I call an Elmer Fudd hat with built in ear muffs. Nobody is going to recognize you in that hat, so just go ahead and wear it and stay warm. Me, I love big heavy wooly toboggans. People keep thinking I am talking about sleds here. Thatís because they donít wear hats. I have different weights of wooly toboggans, one for 40 degrees, one for 30 degrees, one for 10 degrees and a pull over ski mask and a wooly toboggan for below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the last couple of days weíve had a bit of chill to the air. At the morning feeding it was two below zero with a wind-chill of 12 below zero Fahrenheit. This calls for hauling out the heavy duty winter clothes. Many northern farmers buy Carharts, tough farming outfits that can be winter lined to protect against the above mentioned chill. Wonderful clothes, the Carharts, but awfully expensive. Being very cheap, er, budget conscious, I look for spring sales and have bought myself ski pants for $4-5 dollars a pair. Wonderfully warm if you also wear fleecy thick jogging pants under them, which are also $2-4 dollars a pair at the local discount store. With a thick sweatshirt (bought for $2 at the discount store) and wool blend socks bought, where else, for a couple of bucks, you can have a couple of outfits all ready for the cold. Along with the ski mask and wooly toboggan, the what use to look like a coat, ski pants with jogging pants underneath, wooly socks, Iím all set. No one is going to recognize you, so just pile on those clothes to stay warm. Donít forget the insulated gloves or double lined jersey gloves. And the boots, for this type of cold you have to go wild and get insulted boots or you will never get any work done. I find I canít walk if I canít feel my feet.
The neat thing about this below zero Fahrenheit cold is, while you are chopping out the six to ten inches of ice so the goats can get a drink; no silly, we donít have heated water tanks. Thereís no place to plug the things in and I know goats, just to spite you, they would find a way to get to the cord and chew on it and fry themselves. So, for those of us who canít use a heated watering tank, we call those of you who can use them, wussís. Oh, how I wish I could be a wuss.
Anyway, I digress, the great thing about subzero temperatures is when you get splashed while chopping the ice out of the water, the water freezes before it hits you and you donít get wet! Neat, huh? Of course, you have to watch out if you make a very big splash, a frozen chunk of ice can knock you flat.
Today has been unusually nice. It has topped out to twenty! Feels like a heat wave and you find yourself shedding one or two layers of clothing because you are sweating. The goats are luxuriating in the warmth, everyone is happy.
So when someone tries to tell you that cold weather is beneficial, resist punching them in the eye, but do politely disagree with them. You donít want them to get by with being so wrong. Tell them you prefer the much warmer temps of fifteen to twenty degrees Fahrenheit yourself.