I don’t mind when the weather gets colder and the temperature dips below freezing.
I don’t mind working outside when it drops to -10C, when I have have to wear gloves or get frost burn, and I have to break ice in the troughs every few hours.
I don’t even mind when the temperature drops to between -14C or so overnight, frost crystals sprout on every surface, and I have to feed the pigs more frequently.
But when I take down the digital thermometer’s monitor from inside the window, remove its probe from its mount under the eaves, and take it up the hill only to have it fail because the batteries have frozen, then I do start to mind and begin to think it’s definitely cold enough.
Before the batteries failed, I checked the poultry houses where the temperature was hovering around 9-10C at chicken height. Floor temperature was -5C.
I also checked the pig huts, which are insulated and filled with straw.
The adult pigs were enjoying air temperatures of 10-12C, the porkers 9C and the sow with piglets 10.5C. The temperature under the straw and close to the pigs was positively toasty so I didn’t worry about checking it.
I then took the thermometer’s monitor and probe out to the centre of the hill.
The display fell rapidly through -10C to -14.5C and then it faded out.
At the same time, the light from my head torch faded and went out.
The batteries in both had failed in the cold.
It was definitely cold out.
I went back inside, remounted the thermometer and probe, and left the batteries to thaw.
Later, I spoke to the farmer across the road, who has lived here his entire life. He said it was just about the coldest he could remember.
In fact, it was so cold he’d taken his sheep off agistment on our field and taken them home to his barn for warmth.
He doesn’t have a thermometer and with ours out of action, we were left wondering just how cold it was out in the field, although we agreed that was definitely cold enough!