Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Talking Dogs and Winter Preparations

Pardon me for stating the obvious, but winter is here. Temperatures into the single digits (or worse!) for days on end, climbing to a high in the low 30's on the nice days, kind of "here".

Before we had the farm, Sean looked at winter in a vastly different light. A light that included snow boarding, sledding and other enjoyable cold weather activities. I attempted snow boarding once and quickly realized that strapping my feet to a board and hurling myself down a steep incline was hazardous for my health and well-being. But, even I enjoyed the cold weather activities of making snowmen and snow tubing.

These days, snow means WORK and lots of it. Winter has become an endless cycle of chipping away soiled hay or litter from stalls and thawing water buckets, fingers, and toes. The animals on the homestead are faring slightly better than their humans at keeping themselves warm in bodies covered with feathers and fur. Though, the geese, ducks, and guinea fowl finally succumbed to better sense and have begun going inside the chicken coop at night rather than piling on top of each other in a corner.

A night time move
We moved our turkeys from their yard in the back up to the barn for the winter. We have nine turkeys living here right now, our five and four that belong to neighbors. Our neighbors birds are leaving this weekend, which I don't want to think about. Even knowing they were well-raised and cared for and that they do not belong to us, it is still a little sad knowing they are destined to become some one's dinner. Instead, I focus my energy and attention on the three Blue Slate turkeys; Lazarus, Mary, and Martha and the pair of American Bronze turkeys that will live here through their natural lives. We moved them at night to make it less stressful on everyone. Sean and I walked into their pen scooped up a turkey under each arm and walked to their new home. Picking them up and carrying them to the barn was easy. Getting them to release us was more difficult. They did not want to be put down and flapped their wings wildly. With a little coaxing and petting, all the turkeys were settled into their winter stall. It is not ideal because there is no yard for them to play in, but it is a large 10 ft x 6 ft wide x 8 ft tall stall. I scattered some fresh hay and scratch for them to dig through. Once we add some limbs and 2x4's for them to climb onto and around, it should be more suitable and do the trick until March when the weather breaks.

Tur-chicken in the top left of this image is blending with his peeps. 

Our silly mixed up "tur-chicken" moved into the stall with the turkeys. Hatched at the farm this summer, he imprinted on the turkey poults while brooding together with them. When it was time to settle the chicks and poults outside to their respective permanent homes, the chick promptly flew the chicken coop and broke into the turkey pen where he lived all summer and fall. No amount of coaxing would change his mind and since he isn't doing any harm and the turkeys have accepted him, we allow them to live together. I wish I captured a video of the suspicious looks the turkeys gave him when he began to crow. It was truly hilarious.

A couple of our roosters, Charles (on the left) and Simon (in the middle) prefer a
flock of their own instead of taking their chances at finding love in the main coop. 
He is not the only chicken to fly the coop. We have a group of roosters and hens that live with the goats. They have decided that the pig's food is much to be desired and fearlessly eat from Ebony's dish without regard for her potentially lethal teeth. At night they roost on the walls between the goat's stalls. More than one morning, Sean has come inside with a collection of eggs found in the corner of one of the goat's stalls nestled near a group of sleeping goats.

So far, Fenn is the only one truly happy with the wintery conditions. Undaunted by the blustery conditions, he lays in mounds of snow with a look of pure happiness. I love watching him pounce and play in the element he was truly bred for. Sadly, for now, he is unable to be outside without one of us walking him. The snow piled up along the fencing of his yard gives him just enough of a height difference that Fenn is able to jump his fencing at will. If he would choose to remain in the yard, that would not pose a problem, but he does not. He is up and over the fence in a wink and immediately disappears into the woods for a visit with our neighbors living on the road that winds about a mile on the other side of the woods. Twice on Monday, he was returned to us. Sean took the time to shovel the snow away from both sides of the dog fencing, but it did not prevent Fenn from escaping the 2nd time. So, until Sean can get out there with some chicken wire to make the fence once again Fenn-proof, Fenn is an inside pooch and lets us know about his distress vocally. Check it out:

I took a peek at the extended forecast this morning. It looks like we are getting ready for a warm snap toward the middle of next week. Temperatures in the 30's seems downright balmy on a day like today! What's the weather like in your neck of the woods? How do you keep you animals happy through the cold winter months?

Thanks for visiting with us today. We're sure glad you came.
Sonja ♥


  1. Such a handsome pupper dawg!! We have a sweater, a fleece hoody, and a coat for Miss. Piper when she walks. She normally just wears her hoody, but we have had to break out her coat lately. I simply could not function up there!

  2. He just loves some attention! I almost hate to say it, but it's still hot and sunny here, I'd gladly give you some of my heat if I could!!