The old adage, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” doesn’t just apply to the U.S. Postal Service anymore. When schools, government offices and businesses shut down due to blizzard warnings and subzero temps, livestock farmers are still out in the brutal weather to make sure that heating units and water lines are working to keep their pigs, chickens and turkeys safe. The same is true for cattle and sheep farmers, who make sure their animals have water, stalks for bedding and plenty of food.
I had the opportunity today to follow Jon McClure, a farmer from Dallas County, as he delivered rolls of corn stalks and hay to his cattle. While most people in the city were still digging out of their cul-de-sacs and checking road conditions from their computers, McClure was moving five-foot drifts of snow so he could get food and bedding to his cattle to maintain their health. Knowing that the health of his cattle depended on him braving the arctic weather, there wasn’t a question of whether or not he’d do it. This was after McClure spent the night periodically checking on the cows as driving snow and 40 mph winds created near white out conditions in central Iowa. All the while making sure that his herd was fine through some of the worst conditions Mother Nature could throw at him.
McClure’s round the clock attention was even more critical because his cows are just entering calving season. He was quick to say that although the cows can give birth by themselves, it is crucial to get the calves into the warmth of the barn as soon as possible to prevent the calf from freezing to death by wind chill temps hitting a negative 30 degrees.
After watching McClure and many of the other farmers across the state, I always know that when severe weather strikes; whether it be in the gloom of night, driving rain or a blizzard of snow they will be out in it caring for their animals.
Written by Joe Murphy
Joe is a photographer and writer for Iowa Farm Bureau.