Did you know that the staff at Frying Pan Farm Park are “essential personnel” who must work when there’s snow or a blizzard?
“It’s super important for the farmers to come in every day, especially when it snows,” said Farmhand Olivia Madigan. “When it gets cold, the water tanks freeze over, and it’s up to us to break the ice for the farm critters to get their water for the day. For really cold days, we like to haul buckets of hot water to all the animals to help warm them up and to keep their water pans from freezing over throughout the day.”
“When it snows, we always want to make sure the animals have access to shelter, whether that’s a shed in their field or a stall in the barn,” said Farmhand Becca Berglie. Typically, when it’s cold and wet, the farm staff provides straw for the pigs to keep them warm and hay in the shelters for the cows, sheep, goats and horses.
Depending on the ground, the temperature, and dampness, the horses may head inside to their stalls. Sometimes they get brushed and then dried with fluffy, absorbent blankets.
“Some animals love the snow!” Berglie said. “A few years ago, some of our cows were catching snowflakes on their tongues and running around in the field playing in the snow!”
Other animals are not big fans of snow, and they would rather stay warm in their shelter, like the chickens. The pigs love to play with new straw in their sheds, and they sleep close together to stay warm.
“Some of the best days are during snowstorms.” said Operations Manager Paul Nicholson. He remembers the blizzard of 2016, when Herndon got about 18 inches of snow in one weekend.
“Our neighborhoods were impassable by the time we finished with evening chores. [Eric and I] decided to stay overnight in the farmhouse. The neighbors across the street cooked us an amazing meal that I retrieved with the big John Deere tractor. We finally made it home the following night.”
On days when there are only a few inches of snow in the forecast, Frying Pan Farm Park usually stays open to the public. To learn the operating status of parks during weather events, check the Fairfax County Park Authority’s social media and web pages.
Author Lois Kirkpatrick is the Marketing Coordinator at Frying Pan Farm Park.