Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bitter cold

My definition of cold changes as winter progresses.  My choice of appropriate clothing changes along with it.  In the fall, cold means the thermometer has dropped to 32 degrees. I put on a coat, gloves and a hat when I go out.  When the thermometer hits 0 degrees F, I trade my winter coat for my knee length down coat with a hood and the wool hat, scarf and mittens (with wool liner gloves underneath) and enjoy the really cold weather.  Bitter cold means that the temperature is way below zero and the wind is blowing. Bitter cold means that the temperature is dangerous.
It’s bitter cold! I thought yesterday morning when I went out to feed the sheep. The thermometer read 3 degrees below zero.  I was wearing my standard, lined leather work gloves and they were definitely not warm enough. But the scarf, wool hat and hard work kept the rest of me warm as my fingers got colder and colder.  I’m just glad I’m not a sheep, I thought as I wrapped my cold, gloved fingers around the twines on a bale and tossed it out the door of the mow.
The sheep don’t seem to mind the cold much.  They hang out by the hay feeders, relaxing in the sun, out of the wind. The goats however, spend much of their time in the barn. And Lady, the oldest, thinnest doe of the flock, shivers all the time. We’ve been hand feeding her corn all winter. Although it meant extra time feeding and fending off the other goats who felt they should also have corn, I enjoyed getting to know Lady better, that she was not afraid of me.
Yesterday wasn’t actually bitter cold, there was no wind and the temperature was barely below zero. It was only really cold. I curled my fingers into the main part of my gloves to warm them between bales. By the time I finished hauling the tenth bale out into the field, my fingers were tingling. A good sign that meant they’d been cold and were finally warming up. That’s when I noticed that Lady hadn’t come to me, ready for her corn.  She wasn’t with the other animals gobbling up fresh hay.
Lady lay in the barn, cold and dead. For her, the below zero temperatures had been bitter cold.

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