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Snow day a thrill for kids, but a danger for animals

The snow that blanketed the region Wednesday brought out friendly neighbors and sledders, but the temperatures dropped to dangerous levels for one newborn lamb.

Jeff Adams, owner of Walnut Hill Farm in Stafford County, walked down a snow-covered hill to check on a mama pig expecting piglets. What he found instead was a sickly lamb calling for its mother.

“I had to bring it up to the house, set it on my lap for two hours, because its temperature had dropped so low,” Adams said.

The ewe wasn’t producing milk and left the lamb alone without cleaning it after she gave birth. After Adams brought the lamb up to the house, his daughter, Catherine, checked the lamb’s internal temperature by sticking her fingers in its mouth. It was freezing.

 Catherine Adams gets ready to feed a newborn lamb at her father’s home on Walnut Hill Farm in Stafford. Her father, Jeff Adams, found the  lamb while checking on the pigs. (Peter Cihelka / The Free Lance-Star)

Catherine Adams gets ready to feed a newborn lamb at her father’s home on Walnut Hill Farm in Stafford. Her father, Jeff Adams, found the lamb while checking on the pigs. (Peter Cihelka / The Free Lance-Star)

“Warming up animals is just like humans,” Catherine Adams said. “You can’t just put them in a hot bath they have to gradually warm, and you have to pay attention to the core.”

In preparation for the cold temperatures, which fell to 3 degrees Wednesday night, Adams has to make sure the animals have everything they need to keep warm.

“I try to make them as comfortable as possible,” Adams said.

He walks around the farm in multiple layers and rubber boots, periodically checking on the animals throughout the day. He brings extra bales of hay down to his two oxen and smacks the ball in the water trough to break up the ice.

“Unlike the school system, there are no snow days on a farm,” Adams said.

But it was a snow day for a mix of teenagers and kids sliding down a Salem Fields Community hill in Spotsylvania on sleds and snowboards.

“It’s just like old times,” Alia Chaudhry, a sophomore at Chancellor High School, said. “We haven’t done this since fifth or sixth grade.”

Chaudhry and her three friends, who have been out of school for four days, giggle all the way down the hill before running back up to slide down again in pairs.

While the girls celebrated their time off, James Monroe High School teacher Katie Hornung scraped off her neighbor’s car instead of grading papers.

“I feel as though since winter break I have been at home more than school,” Hornung said.

Across the street, her two young children, Jacob and Isobel, used shovels to clean off a neighbor’s steps and walkway. The two kids happily scraped away the first significant snowfall of the year.

Sitting on his four-wheeler, Darrell Cooper, enthusiastically plowed the parking lot of Hulls Memorial Baptist Church. By the time he called it quits, around 3 p.m., he had plowed 15 driveways.

“I saw a lady who was shoveling, and I just went right up to her and dropped the plow down,” Cooper said.

He started plowing around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning and just kept on going. To keep warm, he placed hand warmers in his gloves, shirt, pockets and boots.

“It’s not about the money,” Cooper said. “If you help somebody out, it will come back around.”

Temperatures in the region are expected to remain freezing until Saturday, when the National Weather Service predicts a high of 41 degrees. Snow flurries and light showers are expected through today with a low of 9 degrees.

Jessica Koers: 540/374-5444

jkoers@freelancestar.com

Today’s school closings:

  • Caroline County
  • Colonial Beach
  • Culpeper County
  • Fredericksburg City
  • King George County
  • Orange County
  • Spotsylvania County
  • Stafford County
  • Westmoreland County

 

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