Winter Farm Hacks....
One of the things that I love about living in Western Pennsylvania is the diversity in the seasons, we have beautiful springs with rebirth and budding, a wonderful warm summer and some of the prettiest fall weather out there. Winter on the other hand brings serious challenges to spending large periods of time outside, which is one of my favorite things to do. The cold weather does bring some glorious still mornings where everything is snow covered, and silent, but these cold temperatures are generally harder on everything trying to function in these temperatures.
The first thing that indicates winter is here to me each year is our water. No matter if this is the water in my chicken coop, my barn or my field waters. They are always the first to freeze, thankfully, with the body heat of my animals the barn water doesn't begin to freeze until the temperatures drop into the teens. The wonders of modern technology make dealing with this much more forgiving. I remember growing up my mom would carry a scalding hot bucket of water from our basement to the barn in order to add a little to each of the animals water. I am very lucky to have electric in my barn and water right outside of it which allows me to have barn cameras for kidding and heated water buckets for all of the animals.
My outdoor waters are a whole different story, not only do I look like an extension cord hoarder, but my yard looks like a veritable menagire of colorful cords running this way and that. I have one running to my field from my front porch to keep my stock tank waters defrosted, and one running from my back deck to my chicken coop to keep their water unfrozen. I am sure I am breaking rules of extension cord use, but at this current juncture, until we run water and power to both locations, these are my only options! That is outside of carrying hot water and an axe to break through ice each and every day. I try to be very careful with these cord, wrapping all junctures with electrical tape and inspecting cords frequently for signs of damage.
These colder temperatures don't just make it harder to do farm chores, but they are harder on the animals too. Most of my goats don't even bat an eyelash when the temperature drops below freezing, but Ivy and Branson seem to be the most sensitive. Ivy regularly seeks out warm patches of sun to stand in during cold days, and Branson still has not grown his guard hairs, so he is currently wearing the latest in goat fashion, which is a little goat blanket. Providing draft free shelter, with good ventilation, as much roughage as the goats can eat and a balanced diet with minerals along with deep insulative bedding are the best things you can do for your animals during these cold temperatures.
Stay warm, have a wonderful Merry Christmas and an even Happier New Year! Happy Goating and maybe we will see you in 2020 at the PA Farm show!