Busy busy busy. Too busy to write. As I said the hard freeze was bad. The cold itself did not bother the pigs, but the frozen ground was unpleasant to walk on leading to Peppercorn twisting an ankle and not wanting to stand. This lead to her not eating in extreme cold. A few days I had to sit with her and hold her bowl for her while she laid down to eat lest it roll away or another pig take it away.
Rosie enjoyed the hoop house the whole time. I left the barn open so they could sleep where it was most comfortable. For the first week most everyone choose the hoop house, but then Peppercorn, not feeling so good, moved into the barn and so followed her boyfriend, Buddy.
He could hardly reach the 400 lb sow for service when he first came, now he is big enough that he can mount Rosie. And did. For three days. That was her first true heat cycle I’ve seen in a long time which confirms my belief she did abort thanks to the ram and delievered unviable fetuses. If she actually takes and doesn’t cycle again she lives, otherwise shes got a date in Janurary with the butcher.
So the cold. The cold made chores last longer. Animals move slower, need more feed. First the hose in the barn froze, so i used buckets to fill water. Then the water in the barn froze, so I hauled water from the house twice a day. Then the house pipes froze up….thankfully I have a stream so I was able to climb down the bank, get water climb back up and haul it to the animals so I was a solution to the problem. whew. In the stream we’ve got salmon running. Coho, chinook and steelhead. It’s been a good run so much so that every time i go to the stream to a bucket of water I spy 3 or 4 salmon.
I supposedly chickens are cold hardy, but i decided to move the chicken tractor into the barn away. Bad idea. I let the birds out during the day and something came into the barn full of animals and killed a few of my chickens (barn rats?). Then two just up and died in the cold. I’m down to a rooster and a hen. 😦
Normally my chores take 15 minutes at most. With the cold it was running an hour to an hour and a half causing me to run off to work without taking time for breakfast because my morning commute was also doubled in time. Exhausting There is no other way to describe it. Then take into account keeping a fire going and having to slither under the house at 6:30 am to defrost the pipes and you begin to understand why farmers in the midwest raise their animals in large heated buildings. Why they choose to keep their hogs at a comfortable year round temp of 72 degrees with water always available and never problems with frozen pipes. Why chickens have a barn all to themselves with predators locked out.
But for those of us who farm without huge operations winter is maybe harder than summer. More feed, the sick get sick faster, water needs attention twice a day. Farmers are tough as nails, they get it done because they have to. I have more respect than ever for the folks out east who deal with this all winter.
To all you hard working folks who care for animals year round: you are amazing.
and I am pooped.