We’ve been dealing with chilly weather for quite a while now, but this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are calling for a serious cold snap. With sleet, ice and lots of snow on the way – we’ve been busily working to make sure all of the animals are in the best conditions possible.
Earlier in the week, we split the pole barn pen into two sides – one for our new Penny 2 and one side for a few goats that are showing some signs of sickness. We set them up with indoor-outdoor space, heat lamps, heated water buckets, grain pans and fresh hay. With all of the right supplies and containers in each side of the pen, we should have a fairly smooth time keeping them fed and watered in the weather.
We also set the goats up with a full trough of fresh pond water even though they have their own natural water sources available on the Goat Trails. That part of the herd also has a heat lamp in the Goat House as well as grain pans for a little bonus nutrition daily. The Goat Trails continue to be a perfect place for them – offering plenty of cover, wind break and plants for forage. They are still clearing tons from the wood line even when hay and grain are available.
With new goat babies on the way, we also needed a couple of small, warm nooks for them to get into without being pushed out by the bigger goats. We took a few tips from our friend Brian and built a couple of goat heaters out of large plastic drums. With a heat lamp in the top and a small entrance at the bottom – the kids are able to easily get in and out to stay warm regardless of how crazy the weather gets.
The chickens have had a heat lamp in the coop for a few weeks now. With their windows closed up, it stays nice and cozy in the coop and boxes.
That leaves the cows. The cows have a nice stock tank at the top of the pasture that gets water from the pond via a pump and hose. As long as we can keep things thawed, that works perfectly. Almost too well, honestly. Because the pond sits at one of the higher points on the property, once the water starts flowing, we have to remove the pump from the pond or else it keeps siphoning once off. This actually happened the other night and left a frozen mess on the ground for morning.
With their water handled, we just have to think of food and shelter. The pasture has more than enough for grazing, but Aaron also tossed in a bale of hay so they have an abundance to choose from once snow covers the ground. They also have access to a large grain bin to eat as they please. The older cows are able to easily take shelter under the trees at the edge of the pasture. The calves in the corral, though, can’t reach the trees quite as securely.
Aaron’s brilliant solution was a quick makeshift shelter using wood palettes and leftover plywood from the tool shed. He set them up with a nice little hut to get out of the icy rain if they need.
Keeping track of all of the critters and anticipating what they might need before they need it is admittedly tough. The awareness of these things comes with years and years of doing it, learning from mistakes and seeing how solutions fair. With only a year under our belts, we have plenty of room to grow. This is a pretty fantastic kick off though!