Monday, January 24, 2011

small number of animals dead

Some dead chickens outside barn, for some reason did not go into coop at night. Froze outside. Benjamin the angora buck is barely breathing or moving, limp to the touch, still warm. Sheep, geese, and Pig seem fine, but thirsty. Called into work, said I would be late. Going to try to start truck again. Plumbers on-call.

90 Comments:

Blogger Jeremy said...

In this weather, its best to do a sweep and physically move all chickens into barn at night. I don't even open the coop door when it is this cold, just bring in fresh hay for them to play in, and pick each one up to examine the combs, which is usually where you can detect early frost bite.

I assume you have a heat lamp set up? If not it's a lifesaver for the chickens in this weather.

Lots of cars wont start in this weather, so you are not alone there. When you get it started again, get a charger/starter from Scheumacher. It runs about $70.00 from the hardware store, but I have used mine to goose cars into life before.

And most important, HANG IN THERE! I grew up on a dairy with 250 cows, and on cold days like this, we would occasionally find dead animals. It is not pleasant, but it happens to the pros to. All part of farming.

I use the dead cow in the feed bunker analogy. Occasionally we would arrive on the farm to find one of the cows had been tipped, upside down, into the feed bunker. Once upside down, they promptly suffocate and die. So when you show up there is 1000 lbs of stiff dead cow, upside down in the feedbunk to winch out. If my current problem is not as bad is that, then it is not that bad a problem :)

January 24, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

What a day you are having!! Can you bring the rabbit inside? Have you tried pouring boiling water down the shower drain? I'm no expert but these are my gut reactions if all of this happened to me.

January 24, 2011 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm sorry about the chickens and the bunny. One of my llamas didn't move this morning, and I thought I had lost her, but she got up and ate her grain. I locked them into their shed with some hay, and now I need to bring them some warm water. The chickens wouldn't come out of the coop, and I don't blame them. This is the worst cold I have experienced, and I have lived here my whole life. I hope you can at least turn the chickens into stew.

January 24, 2011 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

All animals were in the barn and coop as of bedtime, these walked out of a whole in the side of the barn on their own volition.

the shower is backed up with two inches of standing water. we're beyond boiling water.

January 24, 2011 at 8:50 AM  
OpenID peihome said...

Aww, hang in there.

We made a (serious) joke this morning about the fatalities we might find this morning in the barn.
Some animals make it, some don't. Husband out there now, so I'll be getting the report soon.
I'm sure the goats and sheep will be fine, it's our two calves that are a bit more susceptible.

And Jenna, our pipes are frozen, too. We've got space heaters aimed at both toilets, and my husband is most annoyed.

January 24, 2011 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Chickens will occasionally wander and hunker down, rather than retreat to a warm space. It is damn weird they did it in the middle of the night. Throw a bit of fence or screen over that hole.

I have had to physically pick them up and put them in a coop at night before. They just don't realize they might not wake up tomorrow. (:

January 24, 2011 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

I'm so sorry. Now I feel like my comment to your post on facebook was a kick in the ass. I agree with Nina, can you bring both rabbits inside for a day or two? Can you run the heatlamp around the clock, until this cold snap is over, to encourage the birds to stay inside?

Also, make sure that you're being proactive with your health (including mental health) right now. Take some extra Vitamin D, try to absorb a little sunshine, go for a walk just for your own benefit, eat lots of Niacin and Vitamin C, and a handful of cashews a day too! I recently watched a documentary (Food Matters) that said that cashews help to counteract the symptoms of depression. I'm sure that all of this stress is getting to you. I would surely be slipping into a deep mental and emotional black hole. None of this would be any easier if you have to battle personal demons as well as all the other stuff.

We're all rooting for you, darlin'.

January 24, 2011 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Westfarm Goat Mom said...

Put the angora in a warm place inside. A box lined with towels and a heating pad over the top has saved many half frozen critters.

I also keep a heat lamp going in the chicken coop with the door closed when it is very cold. You should probably do the same for the rabbits.

Give extra feed to everyone.

January 24, 2011 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I do take a daily vitamin D and niacin supplement, lots of vitamin C too. I am trying to take care of myself. I am worried about work more than anything. I'm scared to leave the house alone with a burning wood stove, pipes that need thawing out, and animals who need thawed water and feed and scared to not go in because of losing my job

January 24, 2011 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

Is it at all possible to work from home for the day?

January 24, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

on days like this, do you ever have the option of working from home? thus keeping you close to the farm, but still somewhat productive?

January 24, 2011 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

I hear you Jenna on the double bind of needing to get to work and needing to take care of the far4m and house and animals - a real bind! Hunker down - it will get better. I'm sitting in a freezing cold house with the woodstove pumping and at least one cold water pipe frozen. Looking at the fdigures it looks like tomorrow evening we'll begin to see an improvement.
Addressing tightening up the barn, working on keeping the water flowing in and out of the house, and getting your vehicle ready for next year is the agenda for when this current crisis passes; and negotiating somewhat less structured working hours if that is a possoibility are ideas.
Sorry about the animals who didn't make it.....
Hang in there....
Hugs
Janet where it's -18 celsius with wind - arghhh!

January 24, 2011 at 9:14 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Jenna - I'll be thinking about you today. Tough way to start the week. Hang in there!

January 24, 2011 at 9:26 AM  
Blogger Lauren said...

If there was ever an initiation winter as a farmer you are in it and you are doing awesome! Don't want to sound hokie but words of encouragement mean a ton to me. So just wanted to pass it on. Look at all the people helping you!

Hang in there!

January 24, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

I'm in balmy SE MA (-1F) and really feeling for you. I wish I could help, but all I can offer is sympathy. Hang in there. We lost an older hen a couple of weeks ago; it wasn't even this cold. She walked out of the coop in the morning with everyone else and died on her "rounds". I didn't think you could eat a chicken that up & died?
And, Jeremy? How did the cow get tipped in? Was a malicious human involved?

January 24, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I'm not sure if this has been covered already, but do you have any water stored inside your house? If not, it's time to start! We use several 6 gal. water totes, ($7 or so at Walmart) but you can use soda bottles, milk jugs, anything really. We've had to use them many times and it always pays dividends when the water's off or the plumbing is broken, or when things are frozen. Apart from that, like everyone else has said, hang in there! Problems on farms seem to come in waves, and it will turn around. Just try not to lose it in the meantime. You can only do what you can do.

January 24, 2011 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Also, (and like others have said) - Wow, I wish you had a work from home option. I know there's not much you can do about that except ask. It just boggles my mind that more places don't allow it, especially for those of you living in such harsh winter climates. I really does mitigate A LOT of missed days. They still get some productivity out of you, you get to stay home and keep things under control - everyone wins.

January 24, 2011 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger CLC said...

Tough day! You are strong and you will get through this and just think... it will just make you stronger :) I am sorry to hear about the chickens and I really hope your rabbit is ok.
Take care!

January 24, 2011 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Casie said...

Sorry for all your troubles this AM, even after all your preparations yesterday. Once things are settled again I would agree with someone's other suggestion of putting a block heater on the truck. When I lived in Fargo for a winter everyone plugged in their vehicles. They aren't too expensive and really do the trick in weather like this. Next time insulation is on sale pick up some to wrap your pipes with too. You've done all you could for the animals so don't beat yourself up for losing a couple of chickens. You have more ordered and coming soon anyway. I hope your angora buck comes around.

January 24, 2011 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger HEATHER said...

Jenna,

I don't know if this will provide you with any solace but I leave the house with my wood stove cranking every day. My stove's fire hasn't burnt out for weeks- I let it slowly smolder during the day to heat the house and I load it up and get it cranking when I get home to make the house comfortable. As long as you've got a decent air tight stove I wouldn't worry about it- those things are safer than most people think if you use them correctly.

-H.

January 24, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Rough morning! Hang in there and think spring!

January 24, 2011 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

I lost two chickens myself (they were in the coop), not much you can do. The horses in the run-in shed were covered in frost but made it through fine. The draft goes without a blanket!

As for shower, perhaps it's solved by now, but the only place that there should be any water to freeze would in the trap below the floor. If you have some access to that area, try the hair dryer there. If you have water past the trap then you have bigger problems than a frozen drain.

If the trap is PVC then it might be faster to just cut it out and glue in a new one - 15 minute job at best. If its copper you could still do it, but it will take longer and be more expensive.

If the truck problem is low amps from the battery bringing it inside will definitely help. On occasion I have some luck by turning on the headlights for a minute or two before turning the key. It sounds counter intuitive but theory I was told was that the chemical reaction inside the battery to send power to the lights causes enough heat to boost the amperage of the battery a bit. It doesn't hurt to try if you are going to have to jump it anyway.

If it were me, my priorities would be house, job, animals.

January 24, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Lee Ann said...

Jenna:
Work will understand. This is Vermont and it is COLD. Take care of yourself and the homestead. You are doing the best you can - no one can ask for any more.

We're thinking of you.
~Lee Ann

January 24, 2011 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger kappachi said...

For the pipes we leave a slight drip that helps keep the pipes warmer then the air around them. But I'm not sure if this goes for negative temps. Best of luck!

January 24, 2011 at 10:12 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

The only other suggestion that I could make re: leaving the stove burning all day while you're out is to have your chimney cleaned first against the possibility of a flue fire while you're gone, which could burn down your house. If the clue is clean, you shouldn't have a problem leaving the stove stoked and burning while you're gone.

I'm awfully sorry about your difficulties and your lost animals. You're being sorely tested, aren't you? You probably ought to have a proactive conversation with your boss about all this, rather than try to keep everything under wraps and have them think you're just flaking. If you do go to your boss, bring solutions with you. It could be a huge load off their minds and yours if you were able to work from home; finding someone else and training them etc., would cost them money as well. My husband was able to demonstrate to his superiors that he was basically already working remotely (since his boss, servers, applications and clients were all in NJ and we were in FL) and when they looked into it, they discovered that supporting him at home (paying for a phone, internet connection, and buying him a computer to use at home) cost them way less than the chargeback on the real estate he was occupying in the office, so it was a win/win (and a godsend; we were able to move from FL to OR!). It could very much be worth it to everyone if you were able to telecommute periodically- you may even become more productive because you're not at work, worried about your animals. And deadlines would be a cinch.

Good luck with everything.

January 24, 2011 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Totally agree with Paula - have a heart to heart with your boss at your earliest opportunity (as in, whenever you can get in and do it in person). This NEVER hurts, and it will show them how much you care about your job.

January 24, 2011 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger denise said...

i feel bad for complaining about 18 degrees yesterday morning. i'm such a wuss! but i HATE cold weather. live in south carolina but am threatening to move to florida!

January 24, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Hi Jenna, listen, once you get through this, try to insulate any pipes on external walls. The pipe insulating materials are not expensive and will do the trick. I know from personal experience. Another thing to do is leave a trickle of water run in the pipes that are prone to freezing. It works til you can get those pipes insulated. I had a kitchen pipe that would freeze in an old house I rented and it was helpful to put in insulation, run a trickle of water and open the cupboard doors to let room heat in the cold area under the sink. For the woodstove, just be sure to periodically have your chimney cleaned and don't burn any green wood or pine wood. These will cause creosote buildup in your chimney which is a fire hazard. Otherwise, if you have a good tight woodstove and protect the area around it from flammable items, it should be fine to burn. Also, it's good to have a cap on the top of your chimney to keep birds and other things from getting in and building nests to cause fires. I also like them because when it's windy, it seems like it's safer to have a cap on the chimney. I have no scientific reason to give for that. Take care of yourself, stress can be a HUGE threat to your well-being and health. Mimi

January 24, 2011 at 10:31 AM  
Blogger hlbrack said...

Oh Jenna...hang in there. I don't have any practical advice to give, but am sending "warm" thoughts your way! It will all work out.

January 24, 2011 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger ADK Massage Girl said...

To reiterate others regarding the stove, you shouldn't worry about it while you are gone. I don't actually know how large your box is, but my father loads his full before bed and once it gets roaring (just to the red zone on the thermometer; 400+ I think) he shuts down the dampers and that keeps the house warm all night. The next day he'll come home from work, stoke it and is able to get a fire going real quick from the embers. He feeds it every so often to keep it going until bedtime again. Just make sure you are sweeping the pipe/chimney regularly to avoid those unwanted fires. And he keeps the furnace set to 52 I think.

My boyfriend and I rented a 100+ y/o house in Bangor, ME in 2009/2010 and had our pipes freeze three times! I wish I had known about leaving the taps open when thawing or I could have avoided a call to the handyman the second time;) I did have luck pouring boiling water down an ice plugged sink (full of water as well).

You'll pull through! It's all part of the home ownership adventure:)

January 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

Hang in there girl. It is all apart of the lessons of life on a farm.

Bring the bunny in and put him in a warm spot. Sometimes that is all it takes.

And it isn't your fault. Some just cannot take the cold. You are doing the best you can.

As for the job, see if they'll let you off a day. I think you have good reason. I once had a job that threatened me and even offered to come get me on a snowmobile! Oh puhleez! I said sure, come on! I was 15 miles from my job and they never showed up and I didn't get fired.

January 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger chesapeake said...

I'll third what Paula said.

It never hurts to ask, and it seems like something's gotta give somewhere with your situation. Best to be proactive about it. I'm sure your boss would hate to lose you! I mean, how many dedicated, young, graphic designers can there be in the Veryork area? You're a rare breed. :-)

Hang in there, Jenna!

January 24, 2011 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Bullwinkle said...

Wow

I just want to send you hugs, positive energy, warmth, a plumber, AAA for the truck, more hugs, dinner, and a sympathetic boss.

Hang in there.

January 24, 2011 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna-once you get organized block that hole where the chickens got out as a fox could come in through it. Keep your chin up, this day will pass. Everyone has to deal with adversity occasionally. It's what makes us what we are;

January 24, 2011 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger E said...

Do you have a local, real life friend who can help you out?
What ever it takes to make it thru this most difficult time - tea, companionship, working together, a long heart to heart phone call. Don't be proud.
Good luck!

January 24, 2011 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Yesterday the furnace wouldn't start. Gelled fuel oil (supposed to have a mix of oil & kerosene but didn't. Go figure).
Today a cold water pipe was frozen, thankfully it didn't burst! Diesel van wouldn't start either. I got flogged by my goose... Typing is a ponderous adventure. Yay swelling.

I already lost a silkie hen to being egg bound. I know what you're going through!

It was below -25F last night.

Hope you make it through. It's about all you can do in this cold.

January 24, 2011 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Helena said...

Sending good thoughts your way that things improve for you. Really hope you're able to work something out with your job to where you can work from home on days when weather wreaks such havoc.

January 24, 2011 at 12:04 PM  
OpenID RJ said...

Hi Jenna,

Just started reading your blog after the Guardian article (I'm in the UK), all good. V sorry to hear you are having a crappy day. We're still learning too, our goose died yesterday, the gander is beside himself. Neighbours not happy. All seems pretty small in comparison. Yet another lesson to learn I think. Hope you have better luck on the way.

Becky

January 24, 2011 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

sounds like a difficult morning.

can you rehome your rabbits to someone better prepared to house them during such a cold spell? or could you bring them in the house, as in a crate within a crate behind locked closed doors?

hope everything else works out.

January 24, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Brought rabbit inside. still looking pretty bad. He's nearly 5 now, not young for a buck.

Septic/pipe guys coming to the farm at 3PM.

other animals seem okay, we are now up to a balmy -5.

I'm at the office so I have no idea what is going on at the farm but leaving in about 2 hours. cramming in as much work as I can.

January 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger kayxyz said...

Heat a iron and put it across the poles of a car battery. Heat bricks, iron, wrap in towels, automatic heaters. I've had friends who remove the car/truck battery, bring it inside, then reinstall it outside when they need to drive. For pipes, electric tape is the remedy I know. Take care.

January 24, 2011 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger kayxyz said...

One more: have read trappers would create embers, dig a shallow trench, bury the embers. While the embers smolder under dirt, trappers would sleep on top and stay warm. Don't know if you could adapt for heating your farm animal spaces.

January 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM  
Blogger Building A Better Life said...

I would bring in the other rabbit tonight, too, just in case. Unless you're going to leave a heat lamp out there.

Bring the truck battery in overnight, too. Yeah, you'll have to hook it up in the morning but it might stay warm enough to start then.

And check out some Alaskan interior blogs and see what they do there - that's how I learned about the battery.

I really hope Benjamin pulls through.

~Beth

January 24, 2011 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

Deep breaths, Jenna. If I was in your place right now I'd be ready to crawl back in bed, head under the covers, until spring. But that is why I don't do the amazing things you do.

You have a lot coming at you from all sides. Try to breathe, put things in perspective the best you can, keep the "dead cow in the feed bunker" in mind.

You WILL survive this winter, you will have learned a hell of a lot, and you'll have months ahead of you to prepare for next winter. Keep your eye on the prize, Jenna: lambs, eggs, rabbits, pork chops. Independence. Pride. Courage. Just think of all the bragging rights you're accumulating every day.

And with all that in mind, take it all one step at a time. Focus on what you can do, even if only for five minutes at a time. You are not alone--even in your neighborhood you have people dealing with the same weather. See if you can get some help, even a friendly pep talk, from some of them. Just so you don't feel isolated. You have a lot of support on this blog but of course in the end what really matters is someone there to talk to face to face, even if only about the #$%$&^%& weather.

You are in my thoughts.

January 24, 2011 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

Again Jenna I cannot even remotely comprehend what you are going through since I have never experienced that kind of cold. I am sorry for the loss you found this morning and hope the rest stay healthy and more important is your health. Take care.
Odie

January 24, 2011 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Jenna,

Checked my house at lunch, and have a frozen pipe myself that I have to deal with this afternoon.

Chickens are still OK but not very happy.

Hope your day is getting better.

Yeeehaaa winter.

January 24, 2011 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Greentwinsmummy said...

awww Kitchen Mama said it all x x x
I agree with computers providing vital contact and support but it cant beat real face to face contact.I dont know how close your neighbours are but can you walk/ski (!) over there and take a loaf of bread or some of your ale and see how they are doing,which in turn will let them hear and see how you are doing,you all may be able to Get A Plan together x

My village is teeny, and in the grotty weather we all pulled together to check on each other and those with 4x4 either lent them out or got supplies for those that needed them.
Hang in there and one day..so I get told! you will laugh about all this, plus have some amazing tales to tell grandchildren round the fire x x x
GTM x x x

January 24, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Whiffletree Farm said...

I brought the young chickens into the basement of my house. People used to bring animals inside when it got this cold.

January 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger miss lady*cakes said...

as an urban dweller who's still struggling to bake her own bread, i regert being ill-equipped to offer advice.
but i offer condolences and the warmest and best wishes.
good luck jenna. hang in there indeed!

January 24, 2011 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Jburd said...

Not much i can offer from down here in Georgia, but prayers and wishing you warmer weather - I really love your blog and look forward to hearing what you're doing everyday. Good luck and best wishes

January 24, 2011 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger jim said...

jenna-do NOT and I emphasize do NOT heat anything and put it between the two battery terminals in your truck. this will create a dead short-ruin the battery, and possibly start a fire- Just don't do it- I used to be an electrical person in my other life.

January 24, 2011 at 3:34 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Thinking of you, sending energy. Those temps you guys are getting are epic! I remember the first winter we moved from New Milford, CT, to Warren, CT, it got into the -20s around xmas, and my dad was wondering what the frick he'd gotten us into...and we didn't even have animals. Sending hugs too!

January 24, 2011 at 3:49 PM  
OpenID Kerrick said...

Thinking of you, Jenna... hope the plumber gets there and fixes everything. I'm sorry to hear about the chickens.

The sudden bout of tired sounds to me like the start of a virus—cold or flu. Or dehydration. I hope you can rest and take care of yourself.

Lots of people are wishing you well!

January 24, 2011 at 3:58 PM  
Blogger Meagan said...

Well I officially give you all my farming luck, Jenna. You're in a much better situation than I'm in, even with all your troubles. My farming dream is going to be put on hold guaranteed, yours still has a chance to live on...

January 24, 2011 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger Joleen said...

Oh Jenna - I'm so sorry to hear about your horrible day. I feel really helpless that I can't do anything to help you. Sounds like you're doing all you can. I would think, living in that area, your boss would understand more. Hugs to you (((((((Jenna)))))))

January 24, 2011 at 4:16 PM  
Blogger Cris said...

Poor start to the week. We had the wicked cold here last week through yesterday. I lost two of my old hens, luckily no frozen pipes (well, one froze & broke in a freeze before this last one, but none from THIS round!), and about lost my cool when I discovered that my nifty homemade heated bucket had frozen nipples, so the chickens had NO WATER even though the bucket was liquid. Ack. Today, it is 15 above and life is soooo much easier. Hang in there. I recommend investing in some heat tape to wrap around your pipes after the current crisis is resolved. I leave mine plugged in year round, they turn themselves on when it gets cold in the cellar and keep the pipes & drains from freezing. Around here, they sell them at the hardware store--I'm sure they have them in Vermont, too!

January 24, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Here's another wish for everything to come out ok. When it rains...or snows...it pours, huh? Glad the rest of the animals seem ok, and that you were able to make it into work.

Keep on keepin' on; wish we could all be there to swarm all over the farm to fix things, feed animals and keep the stove lit!

January 24, 2011 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

Learning curve is a biatch. The losses will teach you where you need to shore up the defenses for the next trial by cold. By next winter you will know where the weaknesses are on the farm and you will be even more prepared.

January 24, 2011 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

Jenna, when I told my husband the expected temps for you last night he responded that those are "killer colds"! You have done the best you can to make your little animal family warm and safe and nature can be so brutal! I recently read a book called "The Children's blzzard" that told of a cold front that froze young children as they walked home from school early in the last century.........you live in an area that dishes out the worst......give grace to yourself, be grateful for shelter in those temps and know that you can only do what you can do.....as someone looking in, I see a very energetic, committed, hard working woman who is not sitting around wasting her life............It will all work together for your good...whatever happens. Keep yourself as snuggled in as you can and know your wished all the best!

January 24, 2011 at 5:25 PM  
Blogger Toby said...

Jenna-your blog family loves you.

All will work out. Despite our best and worst efforts.

Strength.

January 24, 2011 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger sheila said...

Learning curve is a biatch. The losses will teach you where you need to shore up the defenses for the next trial by cold. By next winter you will know where the weaknesses are on the farm and you will be even more prepared.

January 24, 2011 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Goatldi said...

Can you work from home several days a week. The county I live in is famous for the home communters via computer. Some drive into the city (2 hours away or more) as often as once a week , some less.

Chickens are pretty tough but fix the hole and put hot water in their waterer. Yeah I know you get it from house. I am lucky in that my barn has H/C running water. A first for me - but when the pipes freeze it is H/C no water ;-)

Good ideas with the bun, try liter bottles with hot water wrapped in towels on either side. We do this in the clinic to help keep critters temps up when coming up from surgery.

I agree on the bring 'em in at night but keep them in the coolest spot. You could do damage getting them heated up too fast and then going back out in the cold.

Good luck. Isn't farming great?! No I really mean it.

January 24, 2011 at 6:01 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

Well Jenna you aren't alone in the vehicle won't start dept. Maine AAA answered over 6,000 calls today. I had to take my male GSD to Belfast for a treatment with the holistic veterinarian and I saw at least 10 cars on flatbeds on the round trip.
I purchased a new chicken house with insulation in the roof and when I went to check on them this morning it was actually warm feeling. I didn't let them out as I didn't want to chill their home. In the past, I've found hens that didn't get to the house by night fall burrowed into the snow and emerged not the worse for their experience. Don't throw out the bodies you've found. Your dogs can eat them and you'll lose less of your investment.
Bring the bunny inside and wait him out for a recovery or worse.
Don't despair over the drain in the shower. Try to figure out why it caught and address that.
Rememeber, spring is coming and this will be but a memory.
Probably this whole experience would be easier if you had a partner to share it with however, there are a lot of us singles out here and you'll be ok in the end.

January 24, 2011 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

telecommuting is not an option. If it was, half the office would. It becomes a matter of fairness, really. I might have a farm, but someone else might be a single mom, or go to night school, or be caring for elderly...everyone has a trialing story, we just can't ask to treated special when everyone else comes in regardless.

I need to start coming in earlier. I have a lot to make up for after this winter. My office is understanding, but not forever.

January 24, 2011 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger ~ Janis said...

You will make it thru this Jenna.
It was -38F at 3 am, here in Northeast Vermont.
This house was built in 1850. So the "Artic Plan" is:
Heating tape is put on all critical pipes, cabinets open, small animals brought inside, heat lamps on chickens(plus the waterer)and my truck is parked where the sun hits it FIRST thing in the am. I also tank up and put dry gas "Heat" in the tank the day before. My next vehicle will have a block heater that will be put on a timer.
See how the herd did:
www.tailgait.blogspot.com
For me its:
Animals, House, Job

January 24, 2011 at 7:03 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Just for the record, telecommuting isn't about giving special treatment to some employees over others. If "half the office" would do it, that might not be a bad thing - it might cut the company's overhead considerably. My cousin works for Intel, and company policy allowed (not sure if she's still doing it) her to telecommute 3 days a week. The biggest hurdle I think is companies fear employees will be goofing off if they're not physically in the office, but obviously they would know if your work work was getting done or not. Eventually I think, most employers will begin to see the light...hopefully.Productivity usually improves.

Anyway, I'm sorry you're having such a steep learning curve this winter. Keep track of all the lessons you're learning, trouble spots w/ the pipes, etc. and next year you'll be an old pro.

Did the plumber show up? What was the problem with the drains?

January 24, 2011 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I didn't mean to offend kathy, i agree with you, that is just the office mindset, I think. I have asked about it.

January 24, 2011 at 7:39 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Jenna,
This is off the subject but have you considered getting a housemate? I know here in Oregon that alternative living situations are more common especially for adults approaching 30 but it seems like a reasonable option for you. Advertise a room for rent in a farmhouse with a tough, smart shepherd who needs a little help around an upstart farm. Keep the rent reasonable and make up the difference with help at chores, mending fences, taking care of animals, and being another body in the house to wait for plumbers, help start trucks, and to bounce ideas off of. Maybe your local farming scence has a website or some newsletter you can advertise with? Find a like minded person with farming interests and you'll be set! It might help take the stress off of you in terms of money issues too with a couple hundred extra dollars each month. Just an idea. Good luck!

January 24, 2011 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Carolyn West said...

Hi-
I'm a new reader to your blog and a new fan. I'm sorry you're having such a crappy time of it. I lived in New England for most of my life (until a year ago) and can't remember that kind of cold. I'm in the Midwest now and thankfully we're not having the cold that you're having. My crappy day only involved helping a tiny newborn lamb who may or may not make it and then getting attacked by a rooster. I had to spend the afternoon at work wearing a sweater covered in newborn lamb slime. Thankfully my job is understanding about long lunches when lambs need help but like you, I worry about it. I've had frozen chickens too - not fun - I even tried reheating them but they were deader than dead.

It sounds like you've had some good advice and it could be worse so hang in there. I'll be back in the northeast for some sheepdog trials this spring/summer and I will be sure to introduce myself if you're there!

-Carolyn

January 24, 2011 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Not to worry - I wasn't offended. I guess I felt the need to rant a bit - telecommuting makes so darned much sense in so many situations (not to mention being better for the planet). It's a shame more companies aren't progressive enough (yet?) to offer the option to their employees.

Hey, they're calling for 32 degrees tomorrow here...a good night's sleep and a 50 degree temp swing will make everything sooo much easier!

January 24, 2011 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger The Handmade Life said...

Hey Jenna!

My grandfather was part Cherokee Indian. He had some clever ways to deal with freezing temperatures.

He always kept a huge bucket of smooth, round river stones by the wood stove.

On cold nights, he would place the river stones in/on the wood stove. When the stones were piping hot, he would fill metal buckets with about two inches of sand and place the red hot stones in the buckets.
Each bucket was placed under a sink to keep the pipes from freezing.

He also placed several buckets of hot stones is the chicken coop. I remember him pouring hot stones into the water for the cows and pigs, as well.

He would also place a warm stone in each of my coat pockets to keep my hands warm while waiting for the school bus.

I'm not sure if this would work for you, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

January 24, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

just a reminder... when the thaw finally does come you will need to be extra vigilant checking for leaks and problems that may be hidden under the freeze.
My sympathies for the losses.

How is Benjamin the rabbit doing?

January 24, 2011 at 8:40 PM  
OpenID ruralaspirations said...

We are experiencing our first country winter here, too. But our cold weather pales in comparison to yours. Still, we thought we'd frozen the pipes, spent money on a kerosene heater placed under the mobile home, etc. but it turned out us city slickers didn't know about priming the well pump (it didn't help that the guage had busted). Next time we had a cold snap and woke up to no water (coincident with no power) I knew what to do when the power went on.

Hang in there girl! We are all rooting for you. You're on a steep learning curve right now. Wish we were neighbours.

January 24, 2011 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Mare said...

It took me forever to get down to the bottom of the comment list, only to say i'm thinking of you and sending healing energy your way...This too shall pass....

January 24, 2011 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Up until now, this is as bad as it has been. And when you prevail and beat this winter challenge, you will know how much you can endure and how easy everything else will seem.
You CAN and WILL get through this. Just one step at a time.

Don't be too proud to ask for help. I'm sure you're neighbors and other townspeople have had similar dealings with old houses and frozen pipes, and you only have to learn this stuff one time before it becomes old school.

Future winters will not be this bad. Right now is as bad as it gets because next winter you will have more knowledge about how to handle some of this stuff.

January 24, 2011 at 9:10 PM  
Blogger Kimberlie Ott said...

I love , love, love what "the Handmade Life" mentioned about her grandfather! The old ones knew things that were logical, made sense and didn't burn the house down :) Think Laura Ingalls with hot potatoes in her pockets for the long ride...........Country folks are ingenious and the aged are fountains of info as they have survived it all :) I pray you find a few older friends at the local store or town Hall that can help with these problems....your doing good sweetie!

January 24, 2011 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger jim said...

hey gal, I agree with Kari about the housemate thing. Another body [male or female] around there would take some presssure off of you. If it was someone that had a farming interest, it could work out well for both of you and give you some extra capitol to work with. You can even put the stipulation that it is a trial run and either of you can end it anytime as friends. Just a thought but it would give you a little breathing room.

January 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM  
OpenID bowsawwoman said...

I'll add one more suggestion to the list. If the trap is all that froze on the tub drain, get some RV anti-freeze and put a little down the drain on cold nights. (When I was a pre-teen, my Dad was renting an old (city) house and the drain of the shower would freeze up, and that was his solution, worked like a charm.)

Somehow first winters in homeownership always seem to be bad, I know ours was. We ended up with a waterfall in the middle of our bathroom when our pipes froze and burst! The pipes come in to the sink/toilet side, then up and over the bathroom to the shower, including over the fan vent to the outside. Believe me, that now has a thick pad of insulation between the vent and the pipes!

January 24, 2011 at 10:10 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

What an awesome book all this will make someday.

I hope all went well.

January 24, 2011 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger SWEETHEARTS MOM said...

I don't have time to read all of the thread comments; First the truck: in your area you need to run an extention cord to the truck each night with one of those hanging shop lights and a 60 watt REAL bulb...the kind that gives off heat; Lay it at night on the battery and leave the hood slightly ajar; always face the truck south; Hens if their feet get frost bit they are stuck where they are. Don't let them out in this; at all; leave the bedding on the floor of the hend house; layer on new layers of beding every other day; the heat from composting will heat the floor of the hen house; yep it will be hell come spring; don't use hay; use pine shavings; bunnie; ya know it's colder than a witch's t*t when the bunnies die! When you feel better start making snow block walls around the bunnie cages and even build a temporary chicken yard by building walls from snow; start using the snow you have so much of; once the walls are formed and solid, lay wood over top and make a little chicken door so they can come and go into the confined area; do the same around the waters; Eskimos had the right of it; use the snow

January 24, 2011 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

My approach to winter supply plumbing is a "Stop and Waste Valve" simply shut off the water supply and drain the pipes.

My approach to winter waste plumbing is, as several have suggested, antifreeze. The house brand from Auto Zone, NAPA, O'Reillys, 50/50 is adequate. It also works in the truck. Comes in gallon jugs.

January 24, 2011 at 11:15 PM  
Blogger Carol G said...

Hi Jenna,

I hope you are feeling better today. You're probably in bed now and it is probably getting cold again. I hope you found a way to keep your pipes from freezing and your chickens from escaping. I also hope your bunny makes it. It must be frustrating.

January 25, 2011 at 2:23 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

Jenna,

As I guy who grew up on a farm, and now work a homestead along with my 50 hr plus job, I really felt for you yesterday. I found myself re-checking the blog to see how you were making out.

I hope you came out on the otherside OK. What I can tell you is you are a farmer, this is farming. Some days your riding a tractor, dragging a chopper on a beautiful day, standing up on the deck and watching the sorgum and soy be harvested behind you to feed the herd.

Other days it is -20F and your standing in a water trough trying to chip through enough concrete to solder onto the copper fill line a cow broke off when it climbed in.

At least that's the memories of my childhood in Vermont. Peaks and Valleys my friend, Peaks and Valleys. But Oh those peaks.

The important thing, and I can not stress this enough, is DO NOT get down on yourself. Everything goes to hell in this kind of weather, and each year things get better as you figure them out. I had a frozen pipe myself this year, but having dealt with it last year, I had my tools all set and was able to thaw it last night BEFORE it burst. It will all get better, and the next cold snap you will be that much prepared.

Sending good thoughts to you down south. Post up how you make it through the Noreaster that we get on Wednesday. My little homestead in Middlebury is running out of places to put snow.

Best!

January 25, 2011 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Debra said...

Hi Jenna... All day yesterday I was wishing I lived nextdoor to you instead of a couple hundred miles away. If I lived near you I would *gladly* drop by your house while you were at work and keep the fire going, watch your animals, even shovel a bit of snow.

And well, I got to thinking... If I and many of your other readers would happily do all that for you if we could, then *certainly* at least one of your real-life neighbors would, also. Please don't be embarrassed to ask for help! I live in the NY countryside, too, and am surrounded by good neighbors who love to help out. They do it because that's just what good neighbors do out here. It's the country way.

Just a thought... Hang in there--you will get through this and Springtime will come again. I promise. ...Debra

January 25, 2011 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

I don't remember it being this cold in a long time. Family says it's unusual as well.
I'm thinking it won't be so bad the next few winters (hopefully!).

I'd help out if I could! :(

January 25, 2011 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger jim said...

hey jenna=today will be a better day and just look at all of the knowledge that you have gained. Also, all of us are better educated also. Like the one about the anti=freeze in the drains-that should be an easy solution but be sure there is none where the animals can get it. It has a sweet taste and is deadly poison. Keep us updated, you have a lot of faithful friends here worrying about you.

January 25, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger 6512 and growing said...

Jenna,
Sorry to hear about the hard turn of events.
Hopefully the weather will turn and these past weeks will be a chapter in your next book.

January 25, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

If you're worried about animals getting into the anti-freeze, or my thought - chemicals in my septic system, take a couple bottles of your hard cider and put them in a pitcher outside overnight. The next morning the stuff in the center that didn't freeze will be higher proof alcohol. Use that in your pipes for overnight protection. Be a shame to waste good Gin, but that would work as well.

I'm guessing the shower issue wasn't a frozen trap - a clog maybe. I think a frozen trap would have thawed as the hot water from the shower worked it's way down.

Jenna, all combined there have been hundreds of solutions to problems, it would be interesting to read what you tried, what worked, what didn't. Maybe we all can learn from your experiences.

I hope this morning was a problem free morning.

January 25, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Jenna, I hope you are ok today. And that your pipes have thawed out. And the rabbit is better. I have been thinking about you since yesterday. It will get better. It has to. I just hope you are having a better day today.

January 25, 2011 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Tana Mc said...

Greeting from thawing Kansas.
I went thru alot of similiar things last week.
I found that where the water LEAVES the house going into the septic tank is shockingly close to the surface and wants to freeze up. My shower began trying to back up. Yours is probably frozen, too.

I put square bales of hay on top the line and it helped a bunch. Not very pretty looking but.... I am not going for Yard Of The Month.

January 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM  

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