Cold Snap

Amy, our livestock manager and good friend is going to start blogging for us when we’re away from the farm. You can look forward to more animal content, which I’m sure we’ll all rejoice about! – Lauria

While the northeast has been getting hammered with snow, we’ve been dealing with rain, sleet, wind and cold.  Normally here in central Virginia we don’t get a lot of the arctic temperatures I was accustomed to growing up in northern New York State, but occasionally it gets down into the twenties, and even more rarely, the teens.  After a full two days of rain, which made the ground a muddy, sodden mess, we got sleet, which made it an icy, sodden mess, followed by cold and wind, which froze everything solid.


See how the mud froze?  The deep ruts from the tractor are pretty bad.  It caused a lot of problems trying to get the gates open, as the mud around the bottom is frozen in this very uneven pattern.

Fortunately, we have a tank heater in the water trough for the flock, so their water never freezes, as long as it is full.

Unfortunately, the water lines out to the trough are frozen.  But, the flock needs water, frozen lines or no, so Paul came up with the solution to fill up buckets up at the house, put lids on them, and drive them down to the flock in the tractor.



It took ten buckets to fill the trough and the water bucket for Lucy and Orzo (who are in a separate pen they can’t escape from and terrorize the neighborhood).  We’ll have to do this at least once, if not twice, a day until the temperatures come back up.

The water in the pig pen has not frozen because it sits up against the house and the faucet there has (so far) been fine.  We’ve put the littlest lambs up there with the pigs (both for extra grain, extra shelter in the pig shed, and so that Mr Francis doesn’t breed any little girls that aren’t ready yet).



They’ve been getting square bales of hay inside the shed, and the pigs have spread it all around in there to make a nest for everyone.

Did you know pigs make nests?  I never did.

As for the rest of the flock, I hadn’t spent much time before worrying about shelter because adult sheep and goats can generally handle the cold fairly well.  It’s the ice rain we’ve been plagued with that’s been the trouble.  The Angora goats aren’t tolerating it all that well, so Susan decided to order some calf hutches for them.


They’re pretty large; several goats can fit in it at a time, with room to spare.


Milkshakes and Adelaide still prefer the dog house.



Roquefort and Martin have claimed one for themselves!


The sheep have shown no interest in them at all.

I feel a lot better about the flock’s situation now, especially as we’re expecting more sleet tomorrow. Is it any wonder I’ve been feeling unwell?

Once the flock was squared away today I made a big pot of Susan’s Garlic Chicken Soup. That’ll keep uswarm for the night.


  1. It seems unfair that we usually have such mild weather. Those shelters look like they would be good shelter from strong sun as well as sleet and snow.

  2. THANK YOU FOR SUCH A BRILLIANT IDEA!!! (Having Amy blog about the kids, along with all the other clever ideas to keep said kids comfy!!) I look forward to more kid pics, while Susan has gone on to bigger and better things (only in that they take her away from the babies) the JMF animal pics are such a bright spot in my having to stare at a computer for a living life, I am glad to see ‘em and hope there are many, many more to come!! FYI, I saw somewhere (in my computer staring day) that someone used the calf hutches for sheltering bee hives, which is always an iffy thing, since if they think it’s warm out, they fly at 55, but can end up freezing before they get back home. And, no, I didn’t know pigs made nests for themselves, much less their buddies!! Thanks again for the animal themed post!

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I was wondering about farm animals in this weather, whether they tolerate it or not. Does the dog mind that the goats like the dog house?

    • The dogs would much rather be with the flock than warm and inside. They never use the shelter we provide for them, as they have double coats and are built to withstand this weather.

  4. I, too, was wondering about the animals in this weather. Innovative solutions to unforeseen problems. Seems as though all of your charges will get through this just fine. Well done, Amy!

    And pigs make nests? I always heard that pigs are pretty smart animals.

  5. What great little shelters! Where did you get yours?

  6. Oh thank you, thank you! News about the animals and pics with captions, too! A way to get to know the flock again, and the farmers, and pigs and nests. Joy!

  7. Hi: Really enjoy your photos! One thing I noticed is that you have a Pot-Bellied pig and commented that they make nests. You generalized about “pigs” — I think pot-bellies are in a class all their own. They also pee & poop in the same spot. We had a brother and sister and we fell in love with them. They enjoyed having their bellies rubbed, bodies brushed, Skin so Soft for sunburn, and very friendly. Originally, I think they were raised for “food.” When they are young they are very tender and fit on a roasting spike over an outdoor fire pit very nicely. We eventually had to give them away and made the new owners promise not to eat them! Oh, the male had to have his tusks trimmed every so often and he had to be neutered. They also had to have their nails trimmed. They were very healthy. I hope you have good luck with yours.

  8. Thanks for the good update on how the animals are doing during the cold snap
    Very good pictures also.
    I laughed out loud at antics just now. A lot of chasing and butting of heads .

  9. I love the lambcam and check to see what the animals are up to a few times a day. OR leave it on while I am knitting – Some people watch tropical fish – I watch sheep and goats (and a llama and 2 beautiful white dogs). Pigs making nests – now that’s one I hadn’t heard of either. Looking forward to learning the names of the animals I watch live. Glad everyone is keeping warm – just remember every day passed is a day closer to spring!

  10. What about sweet Jerry!?!

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