I remember some of those bitter winter mornings back in the dark days of dairy farming. On the usual winter days back in western Kentucky, we’d dress for the weather and be just fine. On weekends or “snow days” we could play for hours skating on the frozen creeks even though we never had skates. We could slide, though, and that was close enough to magic for us. Snow was not a rarity and some years we’d get storms that dumped several inches on us. Once in March—1960 I believe—we had over a foot of snow from one storm. Paul and I built an igloo in the yard and it lasted a while.
It also took a while to build but when the temperature is in the twenties, good gloves, good shoes and a few layers top and bottom pretty much give you all you need. But when the temperature dropped down in the neighborhood of zero, there weren’t enough layers to keep feet and hands warm.
Especially during milking.
You can’t milk cows without washing udders and you can’t very well wash udders while wearing cotton gloves. Dipping your hands in a bucket of hot water feels really awesome on a day that cold but that wet heat wears off really quickly. And even though our boots had “Insulated” imprinted on them, that was a relative term. We couldn’t fit enough socks into those things to keep our feet warm on those days.
Fortunately for us, there weren’t very many of those days. There were times when we’d get so cold we’d have to take a thaw break by the electric heater in the washroom. We’d wrestle off one boot and set it over close to the heater. Then, we’d stand on one foot and hold the other one up over the heater, as close to it as we’d dare and sometimes a bit closer than intended. When that foot sufficiently thawed or the sock began to smoke, we’d put that warm boot back on and swap out to warm the other one. Then go back to milking.
There are situations in life when it takes more than the usual effort and strength to endure a certain situation. Times when the cold or some other oppression presses down with greater weight. We layer ourselves up in prayer and perseverance and do the best we can with what we have to work with. Sometimes it may seem that we just can’t get close enough to the heater. It is in those times that we find that we can endure more than we believed we could. And when we’ve been through that and found ourselves sustained by grace, we face the next winter with a bit less fear.