Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Winter Weather Comes Early!

The snow has set in early this season! December feels a lot like February this year! We've had numerous days in a row with temperatures below freezing and there are a few inches of snow on the ground. Beautiful winter days are lovely to look at, but not nearly as fun when there is work to do outside! No matter the temperature, however, the goats must be fed!

During the winter, I carry water to the goats -- which can be an arduous task when trudging buckets through snow. The goats aren't able to spend time nibbling the remnants of the pasture when there is snow on it, so they need more hay. In addition, I increase their grain to make sure they have plenty of nourishing calories to keep them warm in the cold weather. This morning I realized that I inadvertantly left the gate to the West pasture of the barn unlatched . . . when I looked out the kitchen window and saw goats happily browsing the front yard! Luckily, most were quite compliant to return to the West pasture when they realized I was offering grain if they returned!

Many of my does are quite pregnant, which is much earlier than I expected them to be showing large bellies & full udders! Keiko Dynamite -- God rest my little goat -- must have been more successful than I realized when he jumped out of the buck pen & spent time wooing the ladies last summer! I worry about some of my first time mothers in this weather. Goats are very resilient & hardy, but the babies have to be cleaned by their mothers very quickly in this cold weather so they can warm up. When the babies are born they are wet with placental fluid. The mothers have a natural instinct to clean them off, which is very important so they can then start to warm up and nurse for nourishment.

The chickens are doing well in the cold weather! I typically let them out for a few hours each day so they can move about the chicken lot and enjoy the leftover bread & vegetables that I save for them. My chickens really don't mind the winter; they simply fluff up their feathers and nestle close to each other at night!

Baby V the cow is quite happy living with the yearling goats. She enjoys the hay from my good friend the Hay Farmer, and she is putting on weight. Abe the Mule with a Tumor is now living with Forrest the Aged Goat. These two grumpy old men seem to get along well. Unfortunately, Abe had a massive icicle attached to his hoof last week. I heated some very hot water and was eventually able to melt it off. I hope to get some more pigs come springtime, but right now I am enjoying last year's pigs (that are in the freezer!)

The animals & I send you best wishes for a blessed & joyous winter! Think of me outside in the cold, bundled up in my Carhartt's, while you are warm inside your houses, relaxing over the holidays!

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