I almost cried this morning when I woke – checked the temperature and found that it was only -17f ( -27c) – the forecast was calling for -26f and after struggling through yesterday I was in despair.

Now that it is over I can concede that it was bad. By yesterday evening I had a terribly sore throat and gritty eyes. But all the animals and birds save for three starlights that literally froze where they sat, we were all ok.

It is a funny thing the cold, I am very rugged up with three layers of trousers, four layers on top then my raggy jacket, my big mohair shawl, hat and then extra hood. Kim’s extra long fingerless mittens over double cotton gloves and I look like this.

I am of the persuasion that many loose layers of natural fabrics are better than tight fancy plastic.

But still after about 30 minutes working outside even with visits to the kitchen to fill buckets I felt myself begin to stumble in the snow a bit. I became a little woozy really. What was even more interesting was that my Mind began to watch my Body. Monitoring my bodily reactions with no emotion at all. My mind had split apart from my body and was Watching with interest. As I finished up who I was feeding I would begin to feel a bit drunk, then as I shuffled back up to the house I would feel nausea – not vomiting nausea but that nausea one feels alongside hunger. And still my mind emitted no panic just amazement – no, not amazement – wonder even interest at the effect extreme cold has on a body.

Then I got so tired. Terribly tired. The cold exhausted me.

By then I was of course feeling really hot, skin tingling hot but I know that trick so I did not take my outer clothes off – even when I was inside- I have a distant memory of my mum warning us to keep our jackets on and warm back up slowly. The heat of cold is a trick.

I wore my headgear and wooly jersey and double socks inside all day anyway – the house heater was having a big of a struggle keeping up.

So this morning my throat still hurts and my eyes are gritty but when I awoke to only – wait let me check what it is now, it always gets colder at dawn, hmm, -20 now but no wind. No wind! I am so grateful.

You remember Jude has a house in the barn, a horse trough flipped over with a hole cut in it. It sits on deep straw. Is covered in straw with little air holes at the back. With a huge mound of straw at the entrance . Jude has made a tunnel through the mound and into the doorway of his house. He actually drags an old tablecloth in with him and bunches it up at the door after himself. I have seen him do it three times now. He goes in and shuts his door. Amazing. God knows how he breathes in there but so far so good. He pops back out warm and fat and hungry.

I hope they did ok last night. But we warm up from here. The worst us over I think.

You know, yesterday I could not work out why my earlobes were aching. Then I realized that the metal of my earrings- studs- were conducting this terrible cold right through my ears. So I took them out. No more pain in the earlobes. Extreme right?

We have gone up FOUR degrees in the last hour. -16 as I finish up . We will warm up fast now – faster than usual actually then straight into snow but I don’t believe we will get snow, it is still too cold for snow.

I will let you know how we all are later, after chores.




53 Comments on “SLUGGISH

  1. You are a wonderful reporter, Celi. I am relieved to read your accepting & optimistic attitude toward this polar vortex. And proud of your courage. Hooray for the warming trend & no wind. There must be warmth from that brilliant sunlight in sheltered patches. Be sure to eat something warm & fortifying against the nausea, & drink mugs of steaming coffee or tea. Bless everyone at the Farmy.

  2. I read with interest the New York Times piece on the polar vortex. Their online version has an animation that explains how it ‘usually’ works/ed and how it currently operates. It is quite interesting to see what is happening … less so when I headed outside before dawn this morning to deliver warm mash to the donkeys, scrambled eggs to the chickens (yep!) and extra grain and alfalfa pellets to the goats. No shivering once their breakfasts were gobbled up. Me included! Glad to see the sunshine has arrived here this morning. Good luck with today’s work!

  3. Eeeeek! Right now we are at a balmy -1F with a wind chill warning and even in the house I am still cold. We do not need you to become a meat Popsicle so take care now…. t

  4. The way you describe the effects of the cold is interesting. This had been happening to me the last few winters. Sometimes I would lie down in the hay for a few minutes as I could feel myself passing out. Then I would get back to the house and feel so hot and tired. I thought it was more due to age but you are young and having much the same effects. Take care I hope the worst is over.

    • Okay, now that it’s come up yet again, I can’t not say something to both of you, right this instant. What you both are describing are the early stages of hypothermia and thankfully neither of you succumbed…

  5. You are a true superwoman!! I agree with the natural fabrics – I wore all wool/ cotton/silk as a kid in Michigan winters and stayed very warm. I do like synthetic gloves and mittens though!

  6. I wonder if what you described is what the beginning stages of hypothermia feel like. Keep taking care of yourself. I worry about you there alone. Has your John made it home yet? That is a cold I do not ever want to have to be out in. Keeping good thoughts for you and all your creatures.

  7. Saw horrific report on TV this morning about Chicago conditions,. I nearly came and fetched you. Looks like our John is a couple of days away yet. Beware of frostbite and keep your mouth closed while outside and do not take any maps in the snow. All this advice from an idiot who has never even seen the stuff. Keep warm, talk later. Laura

  8. I haven’t worn earrings for years, and until your comment, I’d forgotten why that is. I used to wear them at work: earrings being the only jewelry that didn’t present the same kind of danger as necklaces, rings, or bracelets. After a couple of winters, though, I discovered the same thing. My earlobes would ache from the cold, and it was because of the metal of the earrings. Once I took them off, and realized how much more comfortable I was, they stayed off, and I just got used to it. It’s amazing how much difference a little thing can make. Of course, it’s also true that a few degrees can make quite a difference!

  9. As I was reading your story to my husband – we are both retired critical care nurses- we both realized that you were in the beginning stages of hypothermia! Stay safe and hopefully you can get some rest soon

  10. Many local stations reporting -28 here in eastern IA. One death yesterday on the U of IA campus. A student walking home to the dorm didn’t make it. No alcohol involved. No one knows how it happened. Sad.

  11. That sounds dreadful – I hope the worst is over for you. I know what you mean about the body shutting down in the cold. When I’ve been on outdoor film shoots in mid winter everyone starts to go slow after half an hour and concentration disappears …and that’s only 0ºC, but there’s an awful lot of standing around and waiting.
    Isn’t Jude clever!

  12. Take care! I tend to do worse in the extreme heat and humidity, but I was toast after 50 minutes outside this morning at chores, and it was 0F, not minus numbers!

  13. It’s a crazy day when we celebrate that the -16F also just feels like -16F instead of -36F. I’m glad you are all alright. It’s a testament to your hard work and planning that they all survived.

  14. Ohh that sounds dodgy ! As others have said first signs of hyperthermia. Do be careful. Jude is a very clever little pig. I do think of poor Tane though, mind you he has Tima to help keep him warm. 😀

  15. Please remember to stay hydrated. It’s a misconception that only heat can cause dehydration- cold does as well. It’s possible your body was trying to tell you to drink more.

  16. Being on one’s own, in this extreme weather and on a farm is such a worrying position to be in. I’m glad you are OK and I’m also glad the worst is over. Many loose layers of natural fibers are always better than plastic!

  17. oh my how horrid this cold….and isn’t Jude the smarty pig! Take good care of your self!

  18. I read your posts a random, just like I write at random. But yesterday I read your post about you helping out your neighbor after doing your tenacious rounds on your farm. So, this morning I literally woke up wondering about how you are doing, along with your farm friends who totally rely on you. Thanks for this update. Oddly, there is something so exhilarating about how present and alive extreme conditions can make you/us/humans. As others already said, hydrate. I had the beginning of hypothermia once from doing a triathlon in a springtime Nor’easter. Exactly as you described it…Mind watching your Body. You are a wise and strong woman!

  19. I’m just grateful you’re self-aware enough to notice what was happening to you… Hypothermia is nothing to mess with, and let us not forget either that Arctic workers need vastly more calories to do their job properly and stay safe. Your body needs up to 6,000 calories a day to be effective in such temperatures, keeping them warm and allowing the brain to function effectively without the body robbing it. I don’t think you’re carrying the fat reserves to cover such a deficit, so I prescribe some fry-ups of epic proportions while it stays so cold!

  20. I used to experience the same thing as you with my metal earrings in cold weather, and would have to take them out. I’m so glad the worst of the weather should be over for you. We are on a bit of reprieve from the intense heat, but still 40C the last few days. Hard to believe we are on the same blue ball whirring around in space.

  21. I have heard more than once the last couple of days to wear ski goggles to protect the eyes. Makes sense to me. I am so glad we are on the other side of such severe temps and wind chill. Jude was looking pretty fat in some photos the other day! It is so hilarious that the pigs interact with their personal space the way they do. The saying “pig in a blanket” must have real meaning behind it. Stay warm!!

  22. I’ve hadx hypothermia on more than one occasion and it landed me in the hospital. Confusion to the ‘nth’ degree coupled with hallucinations are your worst enemies, especially if you’re alone. Thank God you are all right!

  23. OK, Miss C – Gargle regularly with salt water, vit C caps if you have them, honey in hot tea at least three times a day, some hot meals containing both carbs and protein and at least two rests lying down during the day . . . . you are no good to the animals if you fail yourself . . . . and I DO hope John makes it home soon . . . and, yes VSOP is brandy: we spoke of that yesterday . . . best . . .

  24. We’re watching news reports here of the extreme cold you’ve got and seeing the warnings to stay inside, but you don’t have this option. I know you’re sensible but what a difficult time for you.

  25. I was glad to see you write that you stay hydrated – but if you are drinking a gallon of cold water you may be exacerbating the hypothermia. Try drinking warm-ish water with some lemon or lime juice or some kind of flavouring, since warm water isn’t exactly tasty. Cold beverages or foods will signal your body to use its heat to warm up the food for processing, then your body has to work hard to heat itself back up. Vicious cycle! Maybe a thermos of a warm beverage tucked in your pocket when you go to the barn – sip now and again to keep your body heat up.

    We know you are a smart cookie – but hypothermia will sneak up on the smartest people. We worry about you!
    Chris S in Canada

    PS – hot beverages will make your body send its “excess” heat to the skin – so you flush and sweat. That isn’t a good idea in this cold, but it is why I drink hot tea in the summer! (Just like my English parents did.)

  26. Oh, the earrings are the worst in extreme cold! Glad you took them out and hope things are warmer (as they are here now).

  27. Ooh this is so scary. I am only just catching up after being away on a second holiday. It must be so hard coping with this on your own, but it sounds as if you have been amazing, and you have kept the animals alive. That is heroic.

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