For Some, Daily Responsibilities Don't Stop When Mercury Drops

Some People Have to Work Outside Despite Cold Temps and Wind

Shelburne, Vt. - All of that mess on the roads Tuesday, really impacted people's workday.

Around 6:00 Tuesday night, temperatures at 10 degrees, but that wind making it seem more like zero.  It certainly felt like it.  For some people, their daily responsibilities don't stop when the mercury drops.

"Winter is hard on everything," said Sam Dixon.  He's worked at Shelburne Farms for 20 years, "Winter is hard on us.  Winter is hard on the buildings, it's hard on the equipment."  He's the Farm's Dairy Manager, a job that doesn't stop when the temperature drops and the wind kicks up.  "You have to keep moving.  Just try to stay on task and keep things moving along.  You don't want to do a lot of standing around," he said.

He and his staff are in charge of feeding, milking, and taking care of the 300 cows Shelburne Farms relies on.  "I've always said a farmer's clothes are like his tools.  You have to have the right clothing for the right conditions," Dixon said.

At UVM's Paul Miller Research Complex in South Burlington, Scott Shumway agrees.  "Winter is all about how you dress, fleece, polypropylene as a base layer, and then your outer layers," he said.  The Research Barn is an area where agricultural students can work with dairy cows and horses.  "We start out feeding the animals, which is probably one of the colder things we do, because the tractor we use to pull the mixer is an open tractor," said Shumway.

Shumway says working in the cold is hard enough, but the conditions create other challenges, "The big things that we deal with are frozen water bowls, frozen pipes.  The same things homeowners have to deal with when the weather is cold," he said.

Both Shumway and Dixon say they constantly watch out for hypothermia and frostbite, which can take only minutes to set in.  They both admit working on the farm is a tough job, but it's their passion and they enjoy the challenges, warm weather or cold.  "We're out on a freezing cold day here in the winter and there are different things we have to do.  If you came back in July, we'd be dealing with different conditions then," added Dixon.

Tuesday's weather included the coldest air we've felt since last winter.  The wind and snow tapered-off as the night goes on, but always important for people to bundle up if they're outside, and cover any normally exposed skin.

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