March 04, 2024

From the Pastures: No ‘snow days’ on farm

Happy New Year! Today, as I am writing this column, it has been snowing all night and all day. So far in northern Illinois we have at least 6 inches of heavy, wet snow on the ground. The snow is not supposed to stop until sometime tomorrow.

Times have really changed since I was in school. A day like today would have been a snow day for us. My grandkids have an e-learning day. They both have school-supplied laptops and are logged into their classrooms and teachers via the internet. Our third-grader is loving it and completely handling the entire process on her own. The first-grader needs a little more help, but is doing great. Both my husband and I are working from home for our real jobs. Amazing what technology can do now. It makes me happy that no one has to travel on the slippery roads.

Big shoutout to my husband, who cleared the driveway with the tractor and made his way to the barn to feed the sheep. The barn is well insulated from the weather, so the sheep are protected. They probably do not even notice the storm. Next week, the temperatures are supposed to drop to below-zero. I may close an additional door to keep the excess chill out. My dad always told me, don’t get the barn too tight, the animals can get sick. We have good quality hay, which will help the sheep in the cold weather.

The below-freezing weather will cause a delay in the washing of wool for the mill. Although the area used for washing is well insulated and heated, in the past the drains out to the leach field froze. We made changes to where the drains exit the building, but it is best to just wait for the weather to warm a bit. There is plenty to work on for a week.

Another issue in the cold weather is more static electricity on some of the equipment. This causes the fiber to stick to some parts of the machines, making it difficult to run. Big pots of water boiling on the stove help put moisture back into the area. This works most of the time. Some fiber still does not run well, so we put it off to another day. I am sure everyone has a story of issues with cold weather. I try not to get frustrated and remember spring will be here soon. In the meantime, stay safe — and wear wool.

Jane Zeien

Jane Zeien

Belvidere, Ill.