Last night's expected windchill was to be as low as -25 degrees and called for drastic measures. The herd is currently grazing the ground for the future orchard and there are not many places to seek cover from the wind. So, we opened the large sliding barn doors and gave the cows access to come and go as they pleased. They pleased very much. So much so that we're quite certain they never left the barn last night. How do we know this? Simple. Eric and I camped out on the living room floor in front of the fireplace and took turns checking the herd every hour. Checking, in this case, was much more than just walking out to the barn and saying hello. Here's a detailed look at chorping. We'll start with the attire.
Remember the expected windchill? Well, that makes it a bit difficult to walk outside in our skivvies. Eric can just bundle up in his insulated coveralls & hooded coat, lace up his boots and call it good. Five minutes, maybe? For me [Paula], it's a bit more time consuming. I need at least two pairs of sock (one being wool), long johns, stocking cap for my head, wrap for my face and then the insulated coveralls & hooded coat and laced-up boots. Let's not forget the leather, cotton-lined gloves for both of us. Ten minutes, at least. Timing is strictly dictated by how much sleep we've had since our last venture and how far into the night we are. During the act of dressing, we cannot ignore that sick-to-my-stomach feeling from lack of sleep. But there's a remedy for that.
Windchill. As soon as we open the back door, that wind slaps us in the face and motivates us the get the job done ASAP. That feeling in our stomach is now the least of our worries. Allowing the north wind to propel us to the barn, we first take a head count and make sure the newborn is still alive and kicking. If she wasn't, that would be another story. Second, let's check the water tank. In this case, we're using a mineral tub since it's a temporary station. It's usually empty which calls for hauling five-gallon buckets of water from the hydrant located in the front of the barn (a wise move on the part of the previous owner). Once we're finished in the barn, we head back to the house, undress, throw another log or two on the fire and set the alarm for the next hour.
Up until midnight, the cows drank like they came from the desert (that, too, is another story) - too many bucketfuls to count! At the midnight watch, Eric noticed their drinking subsided so we extended the next watch from one hour to two. At the 2:30 am watch (because it takes me longer to get dressed, right?) I noticed no one is interested in water. Yea! They've had their fill and everyone [us] can sleep for the remainder of the night.
Sleep is a relative term. In theory, taking every other watch means we get two hours of sleep. But unless we sleep in separate rooms, how much sleep do we really get if the alarm is going off every hour? Plus, once back in bed we relay our findings so the other has a reference point for the next watch. It makes for a short night.
And that, folks, is a run-down of chorping. Any other examples/versions of chorping out there?