Thursday, January 24, 2013

Things That Change Consistency in Extreme Cold Weather, and How This Complicates My Life


The horses each get a glug of this stuff with their evening feed.  It slows down on the way out of the jug at the freezing point.  At about -5C it becomes kind of like a yellow cloudy goo.  At -10C it's getting difficult to pour it over the horse feed.  By the time we're at -15C it's like rubber, which in a way is easier, because I just pour it into the cap -- sloooowwwwly --and tap that onto the edge of the feed pan.  Blup.  There ya go.  However then I have to stir it up so the arthritis medication sticks to the feed...


It's got molasses mixed into it.  Need I say more?


I need this stuff.  My hands are red and raw from the cold. My skin actually splits open like paper cuts in this cold.  So I'd like to rub some Vitamin E on my ravaged skin.  I squeeze the tube, as hard as I can, and a cold clear chunk reluctantly expels forth.  Luckily it warms up faster than I do.


I guess setting the jar on the windowsill didn't help much, right beside the frosty glass.  The stuff wasn't quite warmed up yet but I slathered it on my rough heels and jammed my socks on.  A few seconds later when every step felt squishy, I closed my eyes and shivered and then headed up to bed.


There's a bucket of it on the kitchen counter.  I'm not kidding - a plastic bucket with a snap on lid.  Normally you just stick a spoon in there and scoop up a nice amount, spin the spoon to keep it from dripping everywhere, and plop it into your tea.  Today, it's more like molasses.


I don't really see much point in keeping it in a butter dish on the counter at this point.  You have to shave it off with a table knife to spread it on your toast.  Fridge, table, countertop... not much difference.


C'mon, you knew this was coming.  It doesn't squish in this weather.  It freezes to the cement floor of the open shed.  It freezes into oblong balls.  You'll turn an ankle if you step on them the wrong way. They make a THUNK when you fling it into the empty wheelbarrow.  There is one positive aspect to this: it doesn't smell when it's frozen!!


Well duh.  I have a trough heater, which is a life saver.  I have to skim it with an old pool skimmer every day but at least it's not frozen over.  Just around the edges where the heater can't quite reach.  But if the horses go into their stalls for the night I have to fill a water bucket for each of them.  Then the next day I have to chip out the ice and stray bits of hay.  Here's the thing - when it's this cold I put them in at night (see reference to cement floor in open shed, above) and when it's this cold, those buckets will freeze.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.


Yeah those straps and things get real stiff but you know what?  If my face is going to freeze in twenty minutes, I'm not riding.  Sorry.  I'm just not.


My nose runs when the temperature drops. I don't quite understand this.  It's like something inside my head has melted and is dripping out but that makes no sense when it's this cold. Yet there I am, wiping the snot drips off my upper lip.  I've taken to carrying a "hankie" in my pocket.  They're really legit classic hick handkerchiefs: red with a grid of white dots.   But this week, down around -17C,  the snot just freezes before it has a chance to drip.  Convenient, sure, but really just another source of unpleasantness.


It crackles.  I don't know what's going on there.  The air is so cold, the coat crackles.

You know why I really shouldn't whine about all of this?  I have horses.  I have to go out and take care of them, even when it's so cold my face goes numb.  Lucky me.  I live in a house.  As opposed to a camper or a tent or a cardboard box.  Even if this drafty old farmhouse struggles to keep any heat inside.  Quit bragging, eh?


Anonymous said...
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Lilliputput said...

Hahaha! I almost cracked laughing! Thanks for making my day! And I feel with you, today we have -20°C here in Sweden and I'm on the way to the stable myself! Happy freezing!

Undercover Sandy Cove-r said...

Hi Heidi, yep, it's cold here too up in the north country. Our first winter here and like you, thankful for our nice warm house. Sofie is not fond of the minus anything weather and won't even stay out long enough to poop. I was starting to worry that she might explode.

One of the nice things about your snot freezing before it makes it way out of your snoze is that you cut down on hanky use. If it stays cold for too long though, then you might have to chip it out of there and that might be tricky! Stay warm, keep writing, have a laugh.

P.S. I'm going for a job interview today. Wish me luck!

jules said...

I love horses!

Paul Tee said...

I don't like the extreme cold. Temperementally I belong to the tropics.

But here I am, wearing everything I own, trying to thaw the water pump in the barn, that has gone into the Ice Age. In mids of this, nature calls, so I go outside to do my business, but damit all, I'm passing icicles.

mugwump said...

A friend and I went to a February horse show in Nebraska a few years ago.

When we got up in the morning it was 15 below.

By the time we were ready to warm up our horses it was a balmy 7 below.

We opened the tack compartment and our saddles were covered with frost.

Let me tell you how eager we were to crawl up into our saddles and ride...

Heidi Willis said...

Ugh! What a pain in the neck! (and hands... and feet..)

We spent the last week down around 12 degrees (about -11 C I think), and I thought that was bad. I can't keep the dog's outside water anything but a big tub of ice, but he's spending most of his time inside with me, anyway.

So thankful for my wood stove. I just sit in front of it and turn like a rotisserie chicken. :)

Heidi the Hick said...
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Heidi the Hick said...

Well folks, since I wrote this, we got a complete thaw, and rain, and fog, and then the temperature dropped and we got wind so bad it blew the deck chair halfway across the deck, and today we have a little blizzard. Yay Canada!!

Whatever. I've been a hermit this week.