Have you ever seen boiling manure?

We needed frozen ground. Mud was getting old.
Nonfarm types complained about the cold, those whose manure storages were over-full were glad to see sustained temps below freezing.
OK, no wind chills would have been lovely, because the temperatures have been well below freezing.
The sound of water spraying: not a good sound in January when the mercury hadn’t risen above 20 degrees.
Casualty. The first cold-weather casualty was the frost-free hydrant with a “regular” valve attached to make watering calves easier.
It worked great as long as the valve was left open to drain after each feeding. But it wasn’t.
The 18-inch icicle hanging from the hydrant and the ice mural sprayed against the side of the garage were proof.
Prolonged cold weather brings interesting consequences.
Will each piece of machinery or equipment start when the switch is flipped or ignition turned? Did the last person remember to plug in the engine-block warmers?
Will the power stay on?
Manure equipment capacity diminishes daily as a thin film of each load freezes onto the inside of spreaders, scrapers and manure loaders.
By last week, one of Steve’s loader buckets was nearly full with frozen manure. The answer?
Boiling manure. Build a small fire and prop the bucket over it. Ever see manure boil?
Heifers step carefully across their outside lot, manure frozen firmly into a rough surface.
The outside of water fountains are covered with ice flows where cows and heifers slop water. All have worked beautifully except for a brief glitch in the dry cow pen. They just don’t keep as much water flowing through them as the lactating cows, and it showed.
Buckets. Calves nestle into deep beds of straw in hutches and pens, the better to stay warm.
Their water buckets aren’t so lucky and become ice buckets within hours of feeding.
Stack empty milk buckets to take in the milk house to wash and get them there fast. If they sit outside more than a few minutes, the stack will be frozen together.
The bright side has been clear days and lots of sunshine. (OK, and the fact that during the week, I’m in my office and not out in the barn.)
The days are getting longer, too. I have a few moments to appreciate this as I wait for my boot laces, damp from washing up and now frozen solid, thaw before the knots will come loose.

About the Author

(Dianne Shoemaker is an OSU Extension dairy specialist located at the extension center in Wooster, Ohio.) More Stories by Dianne Shoemaker

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