Stay warm & be safe during the Polar Vortex

As record-breaking cold temperatures sweep across the nation, ranchers are gearing up to battle the elements to tend to their livestock.

Amanda Radke

January 29, 2019

3 Min Read
snowy branch.jpg

Understatement of the century, but it is ridiculously cold outside! I’m currently writing this blog at the kitchen table after spending the last couple of hours outside trying to thaw out a frozen waterer.

Admittedly, working on my blog is a good excuse to warm up for a minute before we head back outside. As I was brainstorming a blog topic to write about, I couldn’t get beyond how bitterly cold it is out there!

“About 220 million people — or 75% of the continental U.S. population — will endure freezing temperatures this week,” reports CNN.

Of the Polar Vortex, CNN meteorologist said, “If you're 25 years old or younger, you've never felt this cold before.”

The biting cold has already resulted in two reported deaths, in Illinois and Minnesota. It has also led to the cancellation of 3,400+ U.S. flights this week.

But the worst is yet to come. This evening, CNN predicts that temperatures will plunge 20-40 degrees below zero across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. And from the Dakotas down to Mississippi and Alabama, we can expect to see blizzard conditions with heavy snow predicted creating impossible travel conditions.

While the CNN report painted the grim picture for people across the country, the article forgot to mention the ranchers who will be outside tending to their livestock during this dangerously cold winter spell.

Related:Regulating cattle body temperature during times of heat or cold stress

At home on the ranch, we are dealing with frozen electric waters, heavily pregnant cows just days from their due date and a cross-state trip with bulls loaded on a trailer headed to the Black Hills Stock Show (BHSS).

Others are in the same boat. In addition to the BHSS in Rapid City, among countless other bull sales scheduled, thousands of cattlemen and women are headed to the 2019 Cattle Industry Convention in New Orleans this week.

This is one of the nation’s largest beef industry events, and while the location might offer a warm reprieve from the harsh weather conditions, I know many will be leaving their ranches worried about what is happening back home while they’re gone.

It’s hard not to feel guilty when you’re away from the ranch and someone else is handling the day-to-day chores during tough weather conditions like this. As Tyler and I load the bulls and head west tomorrow, our village at home (my parents, sister and brother-in-law) will be watching our cattle and taking care of our kids for us. For that, we are truly grateful!

Today I want to tip my hat to every rancher who is braving the harsh elements to put their cattle and their needs before their own comfort. Yes, it’s part of the job description. I know no one is looking for sympathy. However, I raise a mug of steaming hot coffee to my fellow cattlemen and women who are battling through this extreme weather this week. Cheers to you!

Related:Re-warming methods for cold-stressed calves

If you haven’t located your long johns in the bottom of your dresser drawer, now might be a good time to find them. Extra layers will be critical to avoid frostbite this week. Even just a brief exposure to the elements could cause serious damage to your skin.

Throw on an extra pair of wool socks before putting on your winter boots. Double glove your hands, and add hand warmers if you’ve got them lying around. And keep the truck or tractor running if possible with the heater blasting, so you have a place to warm up as you do chores in the next couple of days.

Let us know how you’re faring in your neck of the woods this week. Join the conversation on BEEF’s Facebook page or email me at [email protected]. Stay warm and stay safe, everybody!

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of or Farm Progress.

Subscribe to Our Newsletters
BEEF Magazine is the source for beef production, management and market news.

You May Also Like