Indiana has hit a cold spell, like much of the Midwest, plunging temperatures into the single and subzero digits before windchill even is factored in.
As a barn worker, how could this kind of weather not be my absolute favorite?
- Getting to work is an adventure in and of itself. If you’re responsible for morning feedings, chances are that you’re on the road before the snow plows have had a chance to clear your path.
- Carhartt becomes your staple clothing item for the next 3 months. Have you ever wanted to wear every article of clothing you own at the same time? Because that’s what it’ll feel like until the temperatures float back above freezing.
- You’ll get to practice your best Kool-Aid Man impression. Frozen doors? No problem. You’ll get pretty good at throwing shoulders and wedging doors open.
- Barn work in the winter is the greatest all-body workout anyone could come up with. Trudging through deep snow to throw hay or bring horses in? Great calf workout. Shoveling paths to the fields or manure pile and slinging around frozen buckets? Great for your arms. And cleaning stalls with 2,436 layers on is a sure way to get your cardio in.
- You’ll get to perfect your balance. You’ll learn pretty quick what the best way is to get a full wheelbarrow up an icy ramp into the manure pile without slipping. And if you’re bringing horses in and they’ve got ice in their feet (heck, even if they don’t have ice in their shoes sometimes), you are now responsible for your balance + 1,200 pounds of the horse you’re attached to until you can get them off their ice stilettos.
- You will become extremely efficient. You will find the fastest way to turn out/bring in horses, throw hay, change blankets, dump buckets and muck tubs. Anything you have to do outside will be completed before you lose feeling to your toes.
- You’ll get more barn time. For whatever reason, when the temperature drops, everything seems to take twice as long. Plus the cold weather adds a laundry list of additional chores: breaking ice from buckets and troughs, changing/adding blankets, defrosting frozen bucket clips and gate latches, clearing snow from under gates and from paths to pastures, and all that means you’ll get to spend more time with the ponies! (This is a plus because you can use their warmth to defrost your fingers).
Once you’ve been outside long enough, it isn’t that bad – mostly because you’re face, feet and hands are numb so you can’t feel the cold anymore.
It might not actually be a barn worker’s favorite season, but we’ll still be there, feeding ponies, shoveling frozen horse turds and counting down the days until spring.