• John Hogeland

No Time to Be in Iowa

It is February 4th, 7 am, 34 degrees Fahrenheit and raining. In another hour or so it will be snowing with the temperatures heading into the deep freeze. Insert poop emoji here.

I have often said in the past that there is no good reason to be in Iowa in February, that the state should just close down for 28 days (some years 29) and everybody should go somewhere warm. Or at least dry.

A foggy, snowy, recently rainy February morning at Whippoorwill Creek Farm.


For Beth it is ski season and she has buggered off to Utah, shooshing down the slopes with friends for at least the first half of the month, providing me with the occasional updates of fun in the mountains.

For me, it is cold, wet, snowy mud season. Delightful.


And yet, it is also very good to be here in Iowa. My son, Jacob, has come to visit for a couple of weeks and is learning the ins and outs of daily hay delivery for the cattle. They seem not to mind a who is bringing it, as long as the hay gets to them on time. We spend our days checking fences, cooking, playing games and watching the odd tv show. He has been especially looking forward to the cold clear nights for stargazing and we now have those in spades. The sky is so clear that the stars are almost painful in their sharp brightness. If only I had a decent camera for taking starscapes, I would give you a treat. We often spend our time moving around the farm in companionable silence, just doing our own thing - always an option here on the farm in February.

Odd as it may seem, our cows do not seem to mind the cold, their fortitude should be a lesson to us all. They make light of the snow and frigid air, seemingly without trouble and even caper about (as best an 1100 pound animal can) when I bring them their daily bales.

Red and friends enjoying the freshly rolled out bale in chilly winter temps.

A lot of people wonder where we keep the cattle during the cold, and the truth is that they are generally best off out in the pasture as long as they have some protection from the wind. This time of year, I always make sure that our herd has plenty of trees to shelter in. Cattle kept indoors have two things going against them. The first is the temperature difference between the indoors and the outdoors which can be substantial. When they are in a warm place and go out to eat and drink, it is a shock to their system. The second is that their body heat and respiration produce a lot of warm moist air when inside a shelter. This can often lead to respiratory diseases which spread easily in the moist, stagnant air. So, in truth, they are better off outside and handle it well, as cold as it may seem to us.


Snookes, too, loves the cold, racing across the landscape chasing rabbits and pheasants at full tilt. She only slows to dip her head for a moment to snatch a mouthful of snow for a bit of a drink, an entire field her very own snow cone.

Snookes warming up after a cold morning jaunt.

Of course at the end of a day playing in the snow, a nice blanket and bed seems to suit her, too.

So, there you have it, February in Iowa - maybe not so bad after all. No really, I mean it.



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