Wednesday, December 28, 2016

-10* to 40* and a Foot of Snow Expected...

When the forecast calls for -10* weather with winds gusting up to 40 MPH, that means a lot of preparation for the humans on the homestead. Water buckets need to be brought inside overnight or placed where they can't freeze to burst. The barn doors get closed tight. We try to coerce the turkeys and geese to get inside. Unsuccessfully; no matter how vehemently I extol the dangers of that kind of cold, they absolutely refuse to listen. We've spent many an hour attempting to cajole their compliance over the years. I won't lie. There have been tears. Now, with more experience, I explain matters to them, provide them with a warm place to shelter and leave them to decide. They nearly always make the call to remain outside, near the shelter, but not inside it. Que sound of my frustrated eye roll.

And, so it was with this first (really early) potentially deadly cold snap. Sean planned to create another larger shelter for the duck and geese enclosure in the fall. Time got spent on other necessary things and the build got pushed back until the night that the cold was supposed to arrive. After working all day doing demolition on a construction job, Sean came home and set to work securing another shelter. Using 4 pallets, 1 deep and 2 wide, he created a 48" tall frame. This he sheathed in OSB to block any drafts. The roof was made with a couple 2x4's running from one end to the other at a slight angle (to help rain and snow to fall off it), covered with another full sheet of OSB. While this build functions perfectly, come Spring, I would like to see the OSB removed (and repurposed, of course) and replaced with aluminum siding on the walls and greenhouse ridged plastic siding across the roof. (This will let in the light and help to add warmth in the winter months.) For the moment, I am just appreciative of Sean's effort.

Blocks of ice are over a foot deep!

All the animals weathered the storm completely unscathed. No frostbite on wattles or toes. You might wonder, "What do temperatures like that do to the duck pond?" Check it out...

Sean uses either an ax or his chain saw to free up a hole in the pond for the fowl. They get fresh drinking water daily in an actual container, so they don't technically need the luxury of open water to bathe in, but they seem to appreciate it. As long as they do, Sean provides it... most days. It's a lot of work and during storms, they may have to forgo a swim for the day until we clear out the driveway and create paths to all the animal enclosures.

The blocks of ice he cut through this last time were over a foot thick. This was not from the single cold snap. He opened a bigger area for the ducks and geese this day. These blocks of ice represent the total thickness of ice that has covered the pond so far this season. Still and all, that's a lot of ice!

A week later than these pictures were captured, yesterday was a balmy 40* day with bright sun. Sean was home from a job unexpectedly. We used the time wisely. First, he began with cleaning one of the kidding stalls. I suspect that we'll have kids in the beginning of January. (Bad Asher GOAT!) In preparation for new kids, I washed all our goat sweaters (they'll be used this early in the year!) and the towels in our kidding kit.

Asher weighs about 150 lbs.
Eli weighs about 125 lbs.
Then, we spent some time building a new fence around the unused Turkey coop. Since my run in with the fox earlier this year, our turkeys are making their home with the chickens these days. That has left their coop unused. We used 37 pallets in good condition and some decent 2x4's that Sean pulled from a recent job to create a new buck pasture. Because our largest bucks will be sheltered here, we made sure to include a lot of corners which adds significant strength to the walls. We think that 3 pallet lengths is about as far as we want to stretch any section. I like the results. I think it makes their enclosure look like a primitive fort wall. It also gives lots of places for either buck to be out of sight of the other- should one need a little "me" time. And, it provides many nooks to offer hay within and also places to scratch horns or heads against. It's only been 24 hours but so far it is a success. Ultimately, I need to collect another 12 pallets to expand the back wall to its final size. For now, though, the yard area is 36' long by 28' feet wide. While nowhere near as roomy as the main buck pasture, it is sufficient to stretch legs and get exercise.

A little head scratching feels so nice!
With this move, we have freed up another stall within the main barn and removed Asher and Eli, our largest, most persistent bucks far away from our herd of only-too-willing does. We are hopeful that this move will allow us better control over who gets mated each year. (When left up to the goats, there is a general consensus that they should ALL be bred. All. The. Time. We disagree.) This move should also allow our young, yearling bucks to grow stronger without the additional stress of vying for the hay mangers while avoiding our big guys. I foresee having to eventually add electric fencing to the new buck area, but for now, the boys are content. We are predicted to get at least a foot of snow beginning tomorrow night into Friday. Enjoy it while you can, lads!

Thanks for visiting with us tonight. We're so glad you came.

Sonja ♥

1 comment:

  1. Love the new fencing and the duck hotel! Way to go, Superman!