21661 Staley Rd. Paris, IL 61944 Google Map (217)-275-3491
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The Polar Vortex Day 2

Posted 2/25/2014 6:30am by Brian Lau.

      On Monday morning the DJ’s on the radio and the folks on the TV were telling us to stay inside due to the extremely cold wind chills and the drifted roads. Times like these are when you really wonder why you have livestock. Even if you want to, you can’t stay inside, because the 150 head of cattle and 700 plus chickens are counting on you to feed and water them. At 7 a.m. I bundled up in several layers and outside I went. When I looked at the thermometer it showed negative 18°F at my house. The wind was still blowing, so I am sure the wind-chill temperature was much lower. Fortunately the 4 wheel drive ATV started; I had been wandering if it would at these temps. I use the ATV to transport the buckets of feed to the chickens. The bad news was the snow had a crust on it and the drifts were deep enough that the 4 wheeler kept getting stuck. I called Kevin and he brought our large tractor with the 10 foot blade on it to clear me a path to the chicken houses. We keep the farm equipment and tractors at his house. The chickens were fed and they had all made it through the cold temps except for one of the older hens.

     I then cleaned out my driveway so I could get my truck out and get the tractor we use to feed the cows. The cows and calves are currently being wintered at my house while the steers and heifers are up the road at one of our other farms. Kevin cleared the road between our houses so I could maneuver more easily in my truck since the township snowplow had not made it by yet. We had both of the tractors plugged in and luckily both of them started. Baleage was put out for the cows at my house and I found a dead calf. The nighttime temps must have got the best of him. The rest of them looked fine and were glad to get their breakfast. The ice was chopped on the pond for the cows to drink, since that is the only water source on these pastures. Our next adventure was to go the other farm and feed and check the steers and heifers. We took both tractors because we knew we would have to blade out the lane since it is notorious for drifting shut. On the way we encountered a huge drift in front of our neighbor’s house. Kevin used the blade to open the road enough so we could get through. We encountered several drifts as we made our way to the farm. In one place we had to drive across the ditch and into a field to get around an abandoned car left on the road the night before. Kevin opened up the lane and we fed the steers and heifers and chopped ice. All was fine there so we headed back to Kevin’s house to put the tractors up. I loaded up the chicken feed for the next day and headed home to gather the eggs and carry water to the chickens. By the time I got these chores done it was 12:30. On a normal day, these chores would have been done by 10 a.m. Fighting the cold and the deep snow definitely slowed us down.

     After lunch I warmed up and rested for a while before I went back out. I used the tractor and blade and pushed more snow at our house. The wind was still drifting the paths shut. I went up to check the cattle and chop the ice again. I had to take the tractor because the lane was drifted shut again. On the way home I pulled out an Enerstar power truck that was stuck in a snow drift. He got stuck trying to get out of my way. The road was only one lane and was not passable. When I got home to gather the eggs, I realized I should have done it sooner. It was so cold the eggs were already starting to freeze. When your warm fingers grabbed the eggs, you could hear them pop and crack. We ended up having 29 eggs cracked because they froze. Since the roads were still closed I took the tractor and picked up the kids from the grandparents. By the time the day had ended I had spent over eight hours out in the cold. So much for listening to advice on the radio and TV.

Camilla Whitkanack said,
2/25/2014 @ 10:07 pm
It's good to get a glimpse of a farmer's life. I can't imagine a more rewarding job (speaking for my husband who has a desk job but often dreams of running a farm). However, the hard work is undeniable. I stayed in my warm generator-powered home during the storm. Except for 2 horses and a couple of cats with heated cat houses, we were able to bring all of our animals inside during the worst of it. I can't even imagine how challenging it must have been to care for all of that livestock in such harsh weather. We had the luxury of taking the weather man's advice! I'm sure I even cooked up a couple of meals thanks to a freezer full of L&A Farms meat. We appreciate what you and all of the farmers do!
Brian Lau said,
2/26/2014 @ 6:46 am
Thank you for your kind words! Times like these are an extreme challenge.
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