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.