Only a bit of Karen Naatz's face and hair showed beneath her bulky clothes as she faced 3 a.m. chores Monday at Naatz Dairy Farm north of Mantorville.
It was minus 26 degrees, and the wind was wild.
"My eyelashes frosted over right away, so my guess is we're looking at negative 50 or 60," she said.
But as far as she was concerned, only one number mattered — 210. That's the number of cows that needed milking.
Forget the cold, it's part of farm life. You can dress for it.
Forget the frozen water lines and the balky skid loader, they can be fixed with a bit of luck and hard work.
And forget taking the morning off.
"You have to do it," she told the Post-Bulletin. "Dairy farming is not for the weak-hearted. You dairy farm because you love to dairy farm; you don't dairy farm because you want to get rich."
Her first job was to check on two calves born in the previous 24 hours. Normally, Naatz would have put that off until after milking, but the cold forced a change in schedule. One Holstein calf was safely in a special warming chamber; she carried it out and put it into a stall.
"Poor thing, what a way to get into the world," she said.
She was hoping the second one lived so she could put it in the warming chamber.
After she got the balky skid loader started and cared for the one calf, another of her worries disappeared when her part-time help, Kory Weis, of Kasson, appeared. His SUV did start.