Sometimes winter hits unannounced. That’s what happened here last week. Saturday was a beautiful T-shirt weather day, and by afternoon on Sunday old man Winter was rearing his ugly head.
Don’t get me wrong, I love winter… snowball fights, hot cocoa, sledding and cozying up with a book are all fabulous! But after 3 or 4 weeks I am over it. Winter just lasts too long. And it bleeds into other seasons too! I mean it wasn’t even Halloween yet and the temperature literally said 3 degrees! We’re talking Fahrenheit not Celcius! So stinkin cold!
Needless to say we were not ready for it to get so cold so fast. We did not have any of our winter systems in place yet so we had to improvise. This meant busting ice off of water troughs, and carrying boiling water out to dump on the chicken water and into the rabbit watering system to get it to thaw out. It’s a lot more work to do things this way, which makes me grateful that this weekend we took the time to get most of our winter systems set up. The weather warmed significantly so we took advantage of the “heat wave.”
Currently we have a lot of the animals in different sections of the farm. The chickens have their chicken run, but are free to roam the pastures as they please. We have the goats in the pastures, with a separate area fenced off for Beardsly. He can’t run with his ladies right now since they are due to have babies in the next few weeks. The lambs are in the garden eating what is left of it, and the dog has his own pen as well. With all the animals in separate areas, this means we have a lot of shelter and water to maintain in the winter.
We are able to run power to various parts of the farm, so we set up the animals with stock tank heaters in the water troughs, the dog has a heated water bowl, and the rabbits each have an electric water bottle that keeps their water from freezing. This helps so much with winter chores. Carrying hot water from the house to all of these critters takes way more time and dedication than I want to give.
All of the different kinds of heaters we run are electric. Luckily they are thermostat controlled and they only run when necessary. This greatly helps with the power bill!
Feeding really doesn’t change for many of the animals, but it does for everything we have out on pasture. We feed the goats and sheep alfalfa and a bit of grain each day since there is nothing growing for them to forage. I am kind of scared to see the amount of hay we end up going through this winter with our first baby goats coming this month as well as the addition of our cow. We’ll see how it goes….
What do you do differently when winter descends upon us? How do you keep your homestead up and running? I would love to hear your comments!
Until next time! Ciao!