Monday, January 12, 2015

Cold Coming On

Well the weekend came and went in a blur, and a lot of colder weather settling into Veryork. Today was a reprieve from the cold, and temperatures even made it above freezing - but it snowed all day. That meant I was staying close to home. I did make a trip over to Livingston Brook Farm after picking up hay and helped Patty with some chores in exchange for using her washer and dryer. I got a load of whites done and we got to catch up. As the clothes washed up we shared tea, watching the snow. It was great spending time with friends in the snow for an hour or two, what a treat!

Tonight lows are in the lower single digits and tomorrow the HIGH is 8 degrees. Looks like a morning of chores in stages instead of one long morning outing. This is always the best way to deal with extreme cold. Instead of rushing to get the animals seen to in the bitter cold, spend more in segments. For example: tomorrow the sheep will get their hay and instead of just moving on to feed Merlin I'll turn off their electric fence, hop over it, dig our their mineral block from the snow (if they haven't already), turn over their water and jump up and down on the rubber container to get out the igloo bricks, then get them fresh water from the well and a rubber ball to place in it. This was a reader tip (Thank you!) and as the wind moves the ball about it will help stop ice from forming. I'm giving that one a try! All that will take about 15-20 minutes and once they are set I'll go inside, defrost my hands, put on some coffee and head out again once I thawed. That takes about five minutes. Then it's back outside and onto horse chores: same deal. Hay, minerals, ice, water. Then back inside and warmed up before heading back for goats, and so on.

How do you guys deal with extreme chores and morning cold? Do you change your schedule to go out later in the AM because you feed later at night? Do you have an army of defrosting devices and tricks? Do you snuggle up by the stove and send your spouse, because you take turns during the week doing morning chores on and off? Inquiring minds want to know!

17 Comments:

Blogger aart said...

Only chickens here, so pretty easy.... I have a DIY heated water jug with horizontal nipples this year. So far it's working great, I just top it off with warm water every morning. Lowest temp we've had so far was -4F as week ago and same this morning. Tomorrow morning it's supposed to go down to -12F.

I use supplemental lighting(comes on at 3:30a) and go out earlier than usual, at 5-6a, on those really cold mornings to check the waterer and make sure everyone's OK. I might throw down some BOSS for extra energy at that time and to get them moving. Then I feed some scratch grains late in the afternoon about an hour or so before roost time to fill those crops before they sleep.

Check for eggs multiple times a day when it's cold enough to freeze them. The egg sales pay for the chicken feed and cracked eggs don't sell.

It hasn't been above freezing but for maybe 4 hours in the last 2 weeks and have gotten 2 feet of snow in that time. Lots of shoveling in small increments thru the day...a catch 22 there, got to keep a smooth path because of mobility issues but too much shoveling at once can render me non-ambulatory.

January 13, 2015 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Carolyn said...

I call jumping up and down on the tub my Black Rubber Tub Dance.

January 13, 2015 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Christine Marble said...

Hi Jenna - my morning and evening chores consist of taking care of our two Boer goats and loading up our outdoor furnace with wood. The goats have a heated water bucket (easy when you only have two, I know.) So it's just topping off their water, feed, and hay, and making sure they have dry bedding. Then I curry them off just to spend a little time with them and keep them used to me grooming them.

To load up the furnace I have to rake the coals and get rid of as much ash as I can, then throw in as many chunks of wood as the furnace can take. For me, keeping warm is all about layers (I live in Central New York, so I think I'm enduring the same frigid temps that you are right now.) Long underwear under fleece pants under snow pants. Sweatshirt under fleece jacket under ski jacket. Hat, scarf, mittens. Winter boots. Warmth!

January 13, 2015 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

This is great! And it's actually really comforting hearing about your own chore time.

Anne - I find frozen eggs too sometimes! They go fast without a hen on top!

Carolyn: I did that same dance an hour ago!

Christine! Do you raise them for meat? pets? breeding?

January 13, 2015 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I do it all at once, just at a faster pace. Of course in Saskatchewan it is freezing cold until March. I don't feed or water the chickens in the coop so once they are locked up (usually around 5pm these dark days) I don't worry about anything. Insulated coop. No heat. No light. I use a heated dog dish so I carry a pail of water every other day and bring kale and cabbage to Benjamin Bunny. Let out the birds around 9am. Then I give my German Shepherd a chunk of frozen venison and tuck back in the house. Of course I go out every hour to check for eggs so they don't freeze. It was -36C here all last week. Sheesh.

January 13, 2015 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Christine Marble said...

Jenna, my goats are just pets. I love, love, love taking care of them! But finding your blog was no coincidence, I believe, and you're making me want to get more animals! I just finished reading your book, Barnheart (loved it) and you've planted a seed in my brain that is slowly growing.

January 13, 2015 at 8:52 AM  
Blogger Ohiofarmgirl said...

we do chores earlier and later...and have a bunch of rotating buckets so there are always empty, ice free buckets ready to be filled. i hate those black bendy ones - only because the texture creeps me out. but after this week i think we are going to get some. yesterday i took the ashes from the wood stove and sprinkled them along the pathways so it wouldnt be too slippery. this also helps melt the ice and snow.

January 13, 2015 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Only chickens and a crabby (Maude-like) rabbit here. But I don't have heated waters so I do run back and forth from house to their area several times a day to change out water, refill food, bring treats to alleviate their boredom. The cold has made me aware of 2 things to do when I relocate to my farm 1) situate animal shelters close to farm house and 2) have multiple waterers so I can switch out frozen for warm ones. My chickens are currently in unheated coop in garage as well as rabbit. But have lots of straw to rustle in. I just 'Love" hen the fingers get so cold they don't bend...

Michelle-I can't even imagine how cold it is in your area:) I would wimp out!!

January 13, 2015 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

We've been below zero for about 2 weeks (-22F this morning!), not fun.

I have heated water buckets in each animal pen, and I top those up with hot water from my kitchen faucet 2-3 times a day; always at 6:30 am and about 5:30 pm, and sometimes at around noon if the weather is super nasty. It sucks to spend $40 on a bucket, but for me it's worth not having to bust up ice several times a day! Like Ohiofarmgirl, I also keep a bunch of ice-free regular buckets on hand to schlep back and forth from house to barn. I sometimes put some electrolytes (Bounce Back) in the water if I think any of the animals are feeling stressed by the cold. They really seem to appreciate their "tea", and a few of them will stick their snouts right into the hot water before I can pour it into their existing cooler water!

I put down extra straw to help further insulate, and I feed extra hay and grain, especially a few days before the nasty weather is due to hit. I find that as long as the animals keep ruminating, they stay warm enough. I also shut everyone up tight in the barn when it's below about 10 or if windchills start creeping below zero, and that helps keep things inside a bit warmer.

I actually tend to spend more time outside the colder it is, because I'm being extra watchful of everyone to make sure no one is shivering or showing other signs of stress, plus shoveling snow and frozen poo and all that fun stuff takes extra effort when it's so cold! I think I might be suffering from some form of weather Stockholm Syndrome, because we did creep above zero for a few hours the other day, and I actually overheated doing chores!

I wear thermal leggings and 2 thermal shirts under my insulated coveralls, then a ski jacket on top of that, real wool socks inside my arctic-rated Muck boots. The one thing I have yet to find is a good pair of gloves that still allow me enough dexterity while keeping my digits warm. Anyone have recommendations?

January 13, 2015 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Cat H said...

My hands and face hurt just reading this. Stay safe and warm!

January 13, 2015 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Hopefield Farm said...

http://www.sstack.com/product/high-country-insulated-bucket-holder-black/

Insulated and/or heated buckets are not cheap but, after dealing with an older horse for many years, and 1 bad case of impact colic, this is less than the vet bill.
I am still looking for my forever farm home but I worked on several horse farms in New England so I know all about winter chores. We always filled the water buckets with warm water after using a hammer to loosen the ice and dump it out.

January 13, 2015 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Same as all of the above, but I am tickled that I got a cool REI hat like yours, Jenna for Christmas. I love it and have used it in freezing rain (OH) and it was a champ. Now we have 8 degrees, so I am wearing a thin pull on alpaca under the REI. I am loving this new hat.
I am a real estate appraiser and we have some pretty serious changes coming down the pike (thank you Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, more scrutiny, after already being scrutinized for the past 5 plus years)
But, I have decided that when I go to the local meeting about this crap, I am wearing my new hat and my duster. Rebel appraiser with an attitude. (and a boss hat)
HA!

January 13, 2015 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger deodar said...

Two horses, one mini donk, two goats, four chickens, two ducks and a kune kune pig here in east central Wisconsin, all pets. The two dogs live in the house. It's been cold here the last several weeks, several mornings in the teens below 0 F. Lots of wind too bringing the chill down to the minus twenties. I usually get up once it's light out, dress and go directly to do chores. Can't say it's much different in the winter other than pulling a hose out of the basement to water all but the horses, their area is farther from the house but we have a hydrant out there and a tank with a heater in it. The other difference is the poop is all frozen! The other animals all have heated buckets and the chickens have a heat lamp over night. I have a paper covered board under the chicken roost and I swap that out daily as well as cleaning up the pens, stalls and yard. Everybody has access to the outdoors 24/7, the only time they're penned inside is if the footing is treacherous or for medical reasons. When my husband isn't off hunting or fishing he helps. Once chores are done it's bring in some wood for the woodstove and do the poop patrol in the yard where the dogs are. Hubs dresses in multiple layers, I wear tights, jeans, pac boots , a Carhart jacket, stocking cap and gloves. Sometimes chilly when I come in but I thaw quick. When it's as cold as it's been lately I check on the smaller animals a couple of times a day as well as bring in wood and check for eggs. The equines take it all in stride, they handle cold much better than heat, the birds fluff up, the two goats have amazing coats and the pig buries himself in a mountain of straw. They've all come through the last several weeks just fine and they're predicting a warm up - upper 20's! (Break out the flip flops.)

January 13, 2015 at 8:28 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

brings back memories... had horses in MN in the 70's. Bathtub for water with electric heater in it, worked great. I remember the twisted ankles on frozen poo! Best barn clothes were snowmobile suits. Basically insulated coveralls. Took care of that problem of bending over and having the chill get in at your waist. Never did find good gloves that still let you work, I would wear thin ones and then had a pair of xlarge mittens over them. Id take the mitts off when needed fingers and that worked pretty well. Worst thing was filling the water tub as we didn't have plumbing on the property, we ran a hose from the neighbors. Try coiling a garden hose in -20 degrees. Only bearable when your a teenager, but not by much! Best upgrade was moving the horses to a boarding barn, inside and heated!

January 14, 2015 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger NancyJeff O'Brien said...

Hi there

I farm in Canada and last two weeks has been -20 deg c -30 with wind chill. Lots of extra work but I exchange waters. So I bring two in the house to thaw in front of the woodstove, then take them to the barn in the morning fill them and exchange them for the frozen ones. I do make sure everyone gets water and alot of it. I do have a water heater for my sheeps water. We are supposed to warm upto -2 this weekend so it will be easier

January 15, 2015 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Natasha Nogoodnik said...

Hi Jenna, I just found your blog (again, after a few years of wishing I had bookmarked it before). You're an inspiration to me to go for my dreams. The main reason I'm commenting on this post, though, is that rooster in the picture. I love his colors!

When I was four my mom bought a book called 'Farmer Jones', and thats when I figured out that I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up. No house in the suburbs for me, no sir! And of all the animals Farmer Jones had, the rooster somehow defined the dream of owning a farm. He was a beautiful, colorful rooster, much like the one in your picture.

Well, the dream never happened. Maybe thats because I was so afraid to fail I always took the easy way out? Hmm... Here I am in my 50's though, and strongly considering going for it, so I googled single women homesteaders for inspiration and came across your inspirational blog once again, and a picture of that beautiful, gorgeous rooster. Maybe you could say hi to him for me tomorrow, and maybe give him a little extra grain.

January 17, 2015 at 4:54 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

When I was caring for three horses, I made sure to dress in layers. I usually warmed up after doing the second stall. It was actually easier to scoop poop that was frozen! The sweet feed, on the other hand was a frozen block that had to be chissled out! And I tried to never get my gloves wet while watering!
We have a heated waterer for the chickens, so that helps a lot. Didn't get any eggs today, but yesterdays' froze before we got to them.

January 18, 2015 at 12:22 AM  

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