Deep Freeze on the Farm

January 30, 2019 Update:  In Minnesota, North Dakota, and other states, real temperatures were in the 30- to 40-degrees below range, while wind chill effects moved some areas into the 60-degree below frozen zone.
The life-threatening wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as five minutes–as this story said, many records are expected to fall. 

Livestock, pets, and farmers need to take special care in these conditions.

Farmers face varied challenges during extreme cold, and this video focuses on a dairy farm and the measures needed to keep the operation running.  

Livestock and machinery need special attention during winter conditions, and this farmer offers several tips regarding how to cope with the extreme cold. 

Frozen Mustaches and 
Deadly Blizzards

Tough winters on the farm aren’t new, and in this blog, we look at conditions in the days before heated car seats and climate-controlled livestock buildings. Excerpts below:

Dad reminded me that Midwest farm folk of the 1930s and 40s appreciated the beauty and altered pace of winter, but the work didn’t let up. “We always had chores to do, and few places had heat. No warm tractor cabs or livestock confinement buildings. We were out in the elements. Some guys, like old Rhodes, claimed their mustaches stayed frozen most the winter.”

Old-timers don’t talk of those winters without mentioning blizzards, such as the 1940 Armistice Day Storm. “We quickly rounded up the cattle, except two missing calves,” said local farmer Otto. “When we finally located them, we put ‘em in the back seat of the car, and then kept them in our basement until the storm passed.” Others reported chickens frozen while perched in trees, and one farm operation lost 900 of 1,000 turkeys.

Dad also told me that his grandpa said the Blizzard of 1888 was the worst–especially in Nebraska and the Dakotas. County school teachers tried to lead their students single file to the nearest farm house, but some didn’t make it. Dad said by the time he was in the local one-room school, his teacher had a Model A coupe to use for transport during blizzards if the roads were passable.

Even Fido Gets the Winter Blues

Humans suffer physically and emotionally during the cold, but some say dogs also get S.A.D.–seasonal affective disorder. As explained in this blog, I don’t think a dog like Smoky—our childhood favorite—ever had S.A.D.

Excerpt from blog: “Smoky was with us in the dark before school, wagging his tail as we fed corn to the cattle or broke ice in the hog waterer. He might join us when we milked our one cow—steam coming from the warm bucket, cats in the corner nervously watching Smoky and hoping we’d squirt them in the face so they could lick off the milk.”

by Dan Gogerty (top pic from and; bottom from


Help Support CAST

Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.