Cold doesn’t even describe what we are dealing with today. Our farm is located in East Central, Minnesota. We have -50 windchills and actual temperatures hoovering around -20.

On Sunday we woke up to this:

Dairy farming in cold weather via zweberfarms.com

There are no words on how cold that is… Actually once you get past -10 degrees, everything just feels the same: freaking cold.

This morning Tim was awaken with a phone call at 5:00am that the waters in the heifer shed were frozen. He quickly shot out of bed, bundled up in about six layers and raced to the farm. We don’t want any waters to get too frozen because that could lead to frozen pipes. Frozen pipes are bad news, especially if they burst (under frozen ground). After dealing with that, he had to deal with a tractor that didn’t start (lots of ether got it going) and a cow that is not feeling so well. But, things could be a lot worse.

Our hens have not been allowed to go outside. I am sure they would like to free range a little, but their poor chicken feet would get frostbite. Instead, they are tucked under their heat lamp in our hen house.

Our cows don’t have too much to complain about. They have a sand bedded building which they have free access too. When the building is full of cows it is actually very balmy in there. One of our main issues is that we have no indoor area to feed them. So the cows must leave their “beach” to  go outside and eat. As you can expect, they will eat less, so this can reduce their milk production. But they are relaxing more.

Tim tweeted this picture yesterday.

Cows in extremely cold weather via zweberfarms.com

A concern that we have for our cows is frostbite on the teats. This can happen when the udder is not dried completely or they make a bad choice and lay in manure. This is what a good udder looks like:

extreme cold, mn, minnesota, family farm, organic

The udder is tinted blue from the dip we use at the end of milking to protect them from frostbite and infection. It is very similar to the lotion skiers put on their faces to protect them from windburn.

This is what a frostbit udder looks like:
minnesota, mn, family farm, organic, extreme weather

Ouch! This girl made a bad choice and didn’t stay in the sand bedded building. So since, she cannot make wise choices on her own, we are now keeping her inside at night. She and three other cows who haven’t learned will keep the barn warm. When her udder heals, she will be allowed to go back out again.

Our milking parlor can get quite cold too. We make sure to warm up the teat dip we use to the clean the cows udders in a bucket of hot water.

extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

If I were a cow, I certainly would like the teat dip heated up first instead of it being cold.

Some cows have built in udder warmers.

extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

This particular cow is a Normade breed. They are pretty hardy cattle and do well in our herd, for obvious reasons.

We farmers need to be kept warm too.

milk parlor heater, extreme weather, mn, minnesota, organic, family farm

This heater also prevents any spilled milk from freezing on the stairs and causing a dangerous situation.

It looks like by Friday, we will be almost 80 degrees warmer than today!! Breakout the flip flops…

dairy farming in the extreme cold via Zweberfarms.com

Boo and Lilly, our farm dogs, are staying warm in their heated mud room.

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Are you experiencing cold weather where you are? How do you keep warm?

~Emily