Dead Cold of Winter is here …Brrrrr

Winter has come in with a roar this year, seems as though the transition was non-existent…one day 70 the next -3 kinda hard to get used that.

But we have hay under cover and every winter brace ourselves for what-ever Mother Nature has in store.

There’s all a bounty of chicken, turkey, and pork to get us through this tough winter.

Lambs will come early this year as 90 % of the 23 ewes were bred late August,

Last nights storm dumped another 12 + inches on top of the 8 inches we already had, the wind was howling and I could feel the house shake when the gusts hit 50 + mph. Was going to plow out last night but it was too ridiculously brutal and the tractor does not have a cab.

I spent some time during the storm with a shovel digging out around the sheep enclosure to make sure the sheep has access to hay and fresh water. The snow drifts were patterned around the sheep enclosure so that I was able to throw up the snow and make a nice 6 foot wall of snow to block the fierce winds blowing at -10. They were happy to see me and “Bum Rushed” me when they saw I had some sweet grain for them.

The 3 -500 lb sows and the 350 lb boar are still in the barn, I think it’s just too extreme out there this year and even though they have plenty of fat on them and they have a nice little hut out there…I just don’t think they’ll do well in these extreme temps.

Cows are like giant snow plows, they had a 6 foot snow drift in front of their door and the bull smashed threw it..they also have access to the barn and come in at night and sleep. The bull is way past his “Expiration Date” as he is going on 2 years old, his horns are razor sharp…he’s using the outside of the barn to sharpen them daily, while removing the cedar shingles..windows..doors…he’s a one bull demolition team. We’re almost out of beef so I’m going to have to get ready to butcher him here on the farm…this will be a first. I’ve butchered every other animal except for a beef.

Even though I built two well insulated dog houses for the Large Guard dogs and they are really well suited for the cold, this cold is super extreme…they spend their nights downstairs near the wood stove ….they are super fluffy and complete piles of mush just dying for attention…they absolutely adore Johan who at 2 years old loves to hug and get kisses. As soon as there is an unfamiliar noise they go into “Guardian” mode and bark so loud that your ears ring.

The extreme cold makes getting around the farm a little more difficult as you have to wear so many layers of clothing. Twice a day the water troughs have to have the ice removed or you’re going to have a 500lb block of ice frozen to the ground, if you try to unstick it, then the waterer shatters. Anything with an diesel or gas engine needs to be warmed up or it’s no dice…tractor has the be plugged in for at least 3 hours to start and then another 20 mins running to get the hydraulics warmed up.

Retrieving hay is rough, as you need the tractor, the round bales weigh like 500-600lbs. the snow drifted up against the tarp and the tarp is so brittle when it’s this cold, if you’re a little rough with it, it tears like a wet paper bag. So far the tarp is still intact, last year I lost about 20 % of the hay because the tarp ripped in half, right up the middle.

The tarp has to be left in a state where it doesn’t become a 60 foot x 30 foot sail as the wind can make it quite dangerous when it’s flapping around and you’re trying to tie it down. I made sure to pile the hay up so that it didn’t have any valleys to catch the snow and water when the tarp was tied down. This year I will have to build a decent sized hay loft to store the hay away from the elements, tarps are a temporary solution that are risky, expensive, and time consuming.

This year is all about building up the infrastructure to make our lives easier and more pleasurable, each project brings us closer to accomplishing our dream. The floor of the barn needs to be jack hammered out, this is a huge job, as I can’t pour over what’s there and it’s cracked uneven, uninsulated and prone to flooding in the spring. Plan is to take it down about 12 inches, put in 3″ foam board, drainage, stone, 1″ or 3/4 pex for the radiant floor, wire ..and then cement. Going to have to redo many of the columns holding up the barn as well while I have the floor opened up…will not be able to pour cement until the spring.

Stay tuned and stay warm !

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