Years ago my grandfather shouldered a 100 pound sack of cow feed—literally carried it on his shoulder—and took it to the top of the hill to feed the cattle. The truck would have sunk in the mud the day he carried that feed to the cattle, so he had to be the “truck” that day. Other mornings he got up well before daylight to go check on the new lambs in such cold weather that the lambs’ ears and tails would freeze if he left them to dry in the lambing pens. Grandmother’s stove quite often had a lamb drying on the open door when Granddad would get me up to watch the lamb while he went to get another one.
In the really freezing weather Granddad had to cut ice on the tank to keep the cattle from going out on the ice to try to get to the water. Of course, they would have fallen through and possibly drowned or injured themselves. But I still think of that little man out there with an axe cutting ice along the edge of the tank. He wore a farmer’s hat with flaps that covered his ears and heavy gloves and boots with his coat and overalls, but I know Texas cold and wind. It hurts to get that cold.
The chickens were never a real problem in the winter. They were kept up—not that they would have ventured forth in that cold. But someone still had to take them water and put out feed no matter what the weather did.
As much as I appreciate seeing the cattle in the fields and the flocks of sheep and goats in the pastures, it is in weather like we are having now that I am so very glad not to be responsible for feeding and caring for livestock. It takes a measure of devotion and stamina to be a farmer or rancher. Even those who own horses for pleasure riding still have to feed and care for them in this weather. Barns and stables make life much easier for both owners and animals, but the expense and worry that go into caring for any kind of livestock is not for the faint of heart.
Faith Mission provides the equivalent of a stable for those who would otherwise suffer terribly in this freezing weather. Perhaps someone shoulders a 100 pound sack of feed for them tonight. Perhaps someone provides a cup of hot coffee—much better than broken ice on a stock tank. It takes a measure of devotion—and stamina—to care for our fellow man.