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Winter Warmer

Published: 1/9/2009
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The cold is going to my head.

Know the feeling?
You’ve been out in the cold for hours, someone starts talking to you and you will agree to just about anything if it means getting warm.

Ten minutes in a warm car and a cup of hot cocoa?? Sure, take my house! Yes, my family says I'm losing it (and they're not talking about the house.)

Of course, that’s if you can get the words out of your mouth.

When I get cold, I can't form words correctly. If I was takking to a powiice officer, I'm shuwah he would wan' to gib me a breaffalyzer tess.

If I wuz takking to a powiice officer, I’m shuwah he would wan’ to gib me a breaffalyzer tess
And if I could sit in his warm cruiser, I’d be happy to oblige.

Seriously, it is challenging to make rational decisions and complete reasonable tasks when you fear your teeth will crack on the next inhale.

And you know when your hands and feet get really frozen and then they start to burn? It is a delectable sensation. Of course, it’s painful and kind of nauseating, but after the stinging sensation comes the warm flow of blood back to your fingers and toes. Oooh, hurts so good!

If you wrap your arms around your horse, he or she can keep you warm for a bit. Afterall, they do regulate themselves a few degrees higher than us. I was riding bareback the other day and didn’t want to get off.

We all have our winter strategies.
Mine is decidedly low-tech: coveralls, down vest, mittens, silk scarf (wild rag in cowboy speak).
The scarf and hat are key. If I have my neck and head warm, I can trick the rest of the body into thinking it’s warm, too.

I look like the Michelin baby. But I’m a warm Michelin baby.

My layers:

Insulated Carhartt jacket (unlike ski jackets, this jacket doesn’t rip when you look at it sideways. Plus, you can throw it in the washer when the barn smell starts to turn heads.), hat, wool mittens (these are my warmest options BUT they can be a pain because when handling water, they’ll stick to metal handles)

On top of:
Downvest, wildrag (silk scarf) around neck, insulated coveralls – I prefer coveralls to long underwear because when I finally come inside, they are easier to take off.

On top of:
NickerNews Sweatshirt, thermal undershirt, jeans, DarnTough socks (way better than cotton and ragg wool is too itchy for me).

I have a stash of handwarmers that I hoard for the coldest of days.

Misery loves company! Send us your cold weather strategies and anecdotes.

And remember, summer's just around the corner!

Our Readers pipe up:
Don't save those hand warmers until summer! Haven't you heard of Global Warming? We aren't going to need them after a while... Besides, they are very inexpensive in bulk, about 30 cents a pair.

I often indulge with an extra pair in the back pockets of my jeans. Keeping your lower back warm tends to warm your whole core. When all else fails when outside with the horses, there is no place warmer for my hands than under the manes of my Icelandics. Even when they are covered with snow and ice, this area is always toasty warm.

Ok, you asked for it… my primary cold weather strategy is…
HOT FLASHES!!!  Cold weather defense is about the only use I’ve found for them.  But, the sudden power surges and temperature spikes aren’t quite long or efficient enough to warm the toes and fingers, so I use LOTS of the Hot Hands warmers to stave off frostbite to those areas.

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2/15/2015 Joan Muller
I'm the first to hate the proliferation of PVCs (polyvinyl chloride) in the environment, but seeing how a friend has effectively used disposable vinyl gloves (bought in a box of a hundred at the grocery store) for warmth to soothe her arthritis-afflicted hands year round, I tried a pair under my winter barn gloves as part of my tireless search for a better way to weather winter's wrath. The vinyl gloves are membrane-thin with a generous fit; they are lightly powdered and have so little bulk that I don't get the numbing tightness that silk, polar fleece, or wool liners cause. There isn't significant heat or sweat (my dilemma) created with the vinyl liners, but I guess they form a kind of air barrier of sorts that buys me precious time in sub-zero conditions where dexterity is needed. If I have to remove an outer glove or mitten to, say, pill a horse, my fingers are somewhat protected from direct wetness, too. Ideal? No, but the vinyl liners are enough of an assist to recommend them. One friend has tried nitrile gloves successfully, too. There's still no perfect remedy for lengthy bull work where you're using a handled tool requiring a firm grasp---your grasp dampens circulation and with the tool handle already frigid you're doubly robbed of whatever meager heat your hands started with. When I get good and warmed up in my whole body I find my hands eventually get a kind of kick-back but maintaining functional hands is still a bugaboo for me. Maybe there's handle heaters out there like those on chain saws, or you could wrap pipe insulation tubes around handles to cushion the grip. The arrival of Spring is another remedy:)

"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care." - Pat Parelli