Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Bundling Up

I love cold weather, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make things more challenging on the farm. Especially as Cody travels, the weight of calving and keeping stock (alive) weighs on me. I’m sincerely glad to do the work; I grew up in this lifestyle and knew early that I wanted to spend the rest of my life around cattle. 

So, what is the worse part about raising livestock in the winter? 
Fixing frozen waterers? 
Getting cows in the barn during a wind storm? 
Carrying buckets through drifts? 
Nope. None of those things. It’s bundling up the kids to go outside. 

Here is my daily routine:

Change two diapers. Put Vaseline on cheeks and lips. 

Start bundling Caroline: Firstly, get warm socks on her. This consists of spending two minutes explaining why socks are necessary when it is ten degrees outside, then crushing her dreams of wearing her Crocs in the snow. Wipe tears. Lots and lots of tears. Put her hooded sweatshirt on her. Not the easy, slightly large one, but she insists that she wear the old one with a horse on it, the one that I can barely get over her head. This one is apparently the only one that is suitable at this stage in her life. Find her pink coveralls. Sit her on my lap and stuff her into pink coveralls. Stand her up, then tuck her horse sweatshirt down into the coveralls. Zip up the coveralls, forgetting to tell her “chin up!”. I zip her chin. More tears. Tell her I’m sorry then give her my phone to pacify her while I bundle Cyrus then myself, and also to buy her love from zipping up her chin. 

Next, Cyrus: Get Cyrus out of the jumper. Cyrus smells. Back upstairs for another diaper change. More Vaseline for good measure. Grab his snowsuit and head downstairs. Try to find a two-foot by two-foot space on the living room floor that does not have a toy, blanket or shoe on it. This is very difficult.  Lay snowsuit on the floor and place baby inside. Kiss baby and tell him I’m sorry we have to do this, but it will be over soon. He rolls his eyes because I use the same line, daily. Lay baby in the snow suit and zip it up. He is smiling. He is easy. 

Instruct Caroline to stand by the door because we’re almost ready to go outside. Repeat myself. Caroline cannot hear me because she’s watching Baby Shark for the 3,532,694th time and has lost all sense of her surroundings. 

Go to the mudroom to find my clothes. I forgot to lay my gloves on the register after breaking ice this morning and they’re still soaking wet. Search our bottomless bucket of nice gloves that fit and match. This is very difficult. I choose one advertising a semen service and one advertising a bovine estrogen drug. One day these kids will be able to read and I’ll have to explain this to them; today is not that day. 

Shimmy into my snow pants; they should not be this tight. Pull my hair up and pin it into a toboggan. I have to do this before putting on my coat because I’m not able to raise my arms well once it is on. Get coat on. Check pockets for adequate Kleenex supply; supply low. Open door to kitchen and ask Caroline to get Mommy a Kleenex. Repeat myself. She cannot hear me because she’s now watching videos of Asian children wash their hands and has lost all ambition. 

Cyrus is crying. I tiptoe across the kitchen floor in an effort to not leave a trail of mud – or other – across the floor. My kitchen floor is extremely clean and I want to leave it that way. If you believe that last line, you don’t read this column enough. Find the baby in the living room screaming his head off. Someone has placed a stuffed chicken on top of his head. Something tells me it was not him. Ask Caroline again to go stand by the door. Miraculously, she hears me. With her newfound alertness, she realizes that she has on several layers and it is 70° in the house. Suddenly, she is on fire, screaming that she is hot. I understand how she feels; I started sweating when I was trying to stuff her into warm socks. I tell her there is a draft by the kitchen door and she will feel better when she gets there. This is not a lie. 

I put Cyrus into the car seat and buckled him in but do not pull him tight. His snowsuit is so big on him that there is very little room left in the car seat. He’s not going anywhere. I set the car seat by the kitchen door so he, too, can enjoy the natural breeze. I go back out to the mudroom and put on my boots. I carry both kids to the mudroom and instruct them to stay right there. I have forgotten Caroline’s gloves. Her gloves are on the register. I have to take off my boots and tiptoe across the floor again. But the register is empty. Someone has moved her gloves. I go back to the mudroom and ask her where she put her gloves. She admits that she took them upstairs and hid them under her crib. I am really sweating now. 

I try to dodge every toy, blanket, and shoe on the living room floor to make my way upstairs. I cannot find her gloves but I did find an unwrapped granola bar. Suddenly, our mouse problem begins to make more sense. I go to her dresser and find a pair of pink mittens, knowing full and well she will lose her head when she sees they are not her favorite Mickey Mouse mittens. This is a battle I’m willing to fight mostly because I started this process 45 minutes ago and we have probably had four calves born during this “bundling up” process.

I report back downstairs to the mudroom to find Cyrus crying and Caroline taking 50 pairs of gloves out of our glove bucket. This is fine. This can be addressed later. Right now, I need fresh air and enough stamina to make to the barn. I get my boots on and put my phone in my pocket.

I open the storm door and get Caroline outside and pick up the carrier with Cyrus strapped in. All three of us are outside of the house; now, we can start chores.

And my husband wonders 
why I insist on 
feeding the stock only once a day. 

You must always pay the help.

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