From My WindowIssue Date: January 31, 2019
How Low Will It Go?
By Jane Thibodeau Martin,
The first thing I do every morning is look at the weather forecast on my phone. My early morning routine involves walking the dogs and caring for the horses, so I need to know what to be prepared for when I get dressed.
This morning, 1/26/19, the phone informed me that it was minus 22 degrees " not a wind chill. Swiping ahead to next week, I see that this may seem balmy compared to what lies ahead of me.
I laughed to myself as I dutifully applied my antiperspirant. There is NO chance I'll be needing that today. In fact, it's about as improbable as frying an egg on the sidewalk now.
I have slid into the habit of spending five minutes getting dressed before I exit the house. My first step is getting my coveralls and barn boots into the mud room from the garage to "warm up" before I put them on. Once I am dressed I put a coat on our short-haired dog. Putting clothing on a dog seems like a pretention to me, but she has a very short coat and hates the cold. She does look pretty cute in her paisley blanket but she seems to think she can't go to the bathroom in it, leading to some comical discussions between us " my side of the conversation verbal, hers in body language.
Our other dog, Wolfgang, is built for winter weather. He loves the snow and cold and is clearly disappointed when I head back toward the house. But it's time for some attention to the needs of the horses, so I drop the dogs inside and head to the barn.
The horses could have spent the night inside in their stalls, but it's clear from the lack of manure inside that they chose to spend most of the night outdoors. Their paddock is sheltered from the north and west winds, and they were content to munch on hay out of their hay feeder in their blankets.
Given that these two never were out of the southwest until we hauled them up here, I do blanket them if it is going to be below zero. They seem happy and comfortable this morning although both of them have a frosted mane and eyelashes. They are always thrilled to hear me coming and attack their feed exuberantly. Hay, and lots of it, keeps their internal furnaces stoked but they love their grain ration.
Finally I walk into the woods a short distance and scatter some wild bird seed mix on the ruffled grouse's drumming log. Tracks tell me at least one of the pair is still visiting the log. An article states the winter diet of these birds is buds, twigs and catkins but maybe they will welcome some seed " a diet of twigs seems brutal to me but mother nature knows better than I do.
Last evening traveling in the car we saw at least 16 deer in various harvested corn fields at dusk, gleaning the corn left behind. There is not enough snow yet to impede their movements much, and it's light, without the hard crust that causes deer difficulty. In many ways deep, hard snow is harder on them than this cold.
You have to resign yourself to this weather, as no amount of griping will change it. I am pretty much going about my normal routine so far, and my nod to safety is dressing warmly, carrying my cell phone and maintaining good communication with my partner about who is going where, and when, and for how long. We humans have heated vehicles to transport us, and warm houses to retreat to.
Which causes me more wonder and respect for the wild creatures outdoors, many of whom will survive this bitter cold and struggle for food just fine.
As of 1/30/19 there are 49 days until spring. As last year showed us, we can still get an ugly smack down in April, but the days are already noticeably longer. Bundle up, grab a cup of hot tea and have hope, trying not to dwell on what fresh hell the next few days may bring. All of us still have it better than the wild things.
Please, if you have a dog chained or caged up outdoors, or an outdoor cat, consider bringing them inside a building. At a minimum they require dry bedding and fresh, unfrozen water, as eating snow or ice drops their body temperatures further, along with adequate food.
Welcome back to work, at least for now, federal employees and contractors. You were missed, you are needed and you are deeply appreciated.
You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: JanieTMartin@gmail.com.
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