On Sunday, Feb. 14, and Valentine’s Day of course, the temperature here in Montgomery City was a blistering 0 degrees without factoring in the wind chill.

We knew it was a cold one and have all the right gear. My husband and I did what any logical parent does in this kind of weather; we turned on a movie for the boys and after putting on our overalls, boots and many layers, headed out the door.

WHEW! I could feel the moisture on my face freeze as that first gust hit.

After entering the barn, we discovered the tractor would not start and the gear shift was frozen. The shift stick freezes easily and that’s pretty common for this tractor but having it not start is rare. I turned to my trusty propane heater and placed it near the tractor to help thaw things. We added another propane heater near the engine and let them run for a while.

Then it was off to cutting ice so everyone had access to water. With a pickaxe in hand and the heater cranked on high, we drove around and slung away. Us vs. the ice, feeling a sense of accomplishment when the ice gave way and we could chisel out holes the perfect size for their noses.

It was good to get back to the house and warm up to a few cups of coffee. Skip a few hours and few trips back out to the barn and it became apparent the tractor was not thawing. We put a tarp around it but with all the holes, it wasn’t holding in the heat. At 5 o’clock, I headed to Orchelns and invested in some new tarps.

At 11:30 p.m., we finally had the tractor running. We proceeded to open up the haybarn to load up the bales. I got one bale on the front spikes and was backing in to pick up a second. I couldn’t quite get angled right to pick up that last bale but in a hurry tried to push it in.

What proceeded was the cracking of metal as a heavy duty bolt snapped and a ball joint was dislodged. This resulted in lots of cursing and instead of being able to make one trip to get hay to the cows, it meant two. Couple that with the fact we weren’t sure if our tractor would run the next day and so we wanted to get extra hay nearby.

Mike gritted it out and made three of the four trips in a cabless tractor after midnight with the wind blowing, snow coming down and it was getting colder by the hour. As I followed him in the car for safety reasons, I thought to myself:

“Any normal person is tucked away in bed right now, or at the very least watching a late night show in their PJs. This is crazy! Life without cows would be much easier … summers by the pool and not fixing fence or mowing pastures, early mornings spent playing games with the boys and not having to worry about getting outside to do chores. Why do we do this? We either love it that much or are just plain crazy.”

By 1 a.m., all our cows had hay and we finally took our overalls off and crawled into bed.

Well, after gritting it out and asking myself some tough questions in the process, I can say “we LOVE it that much.” There’s a peace that comes when you’re outside and taking care of God’s creatures. It’s a life we love and one we want our boys to know. It’s more than just a job. It’s a calling, it’s a love and that’s why we have GRIT (Grace in Rough and Inexplicable Times) … but in those moments that call for GRIT, grace is not the picture and that’s why there’s not another one for this post.

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