The mercury had settled on minus 30 Fahrenheit. My eyes quickly checked the inside temperature on the thermometer as I slipped on the barn jeans and sweatshirt over my long john foundation, hoping to find warmth in those numbers. It didn’t matter; the chores still had to be done. I continued to dress, adding the next layer of coveralls, winter barn coat and heavy boots over wool socks, knit scarf, warm mittens and a rabbit-fur hat. My mother always said the cows didn’t care what you looked like as long as they got taken care of.
The first inhale of frosty air as I stepped outside the back door reinforced just how warm the bed felt minutes before. I pulled the scarf over my nose and mouth to temper the frigid air before it entered my lungs. I could hear the old maple tree snap and pop as the cold crept closer to its heartwood. Even the massive trunk had to give a little due to the freezing and expanding that caused the fibers to crack and pop on that brutally cold morning. I could feel my boot leather stiffen as I walked across the frozen snow toward the barn.