Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter on the Farm

Winter brings special challenges to farm life, and as Indiana plunges toward sub-zero temperatures, I have had the opportunity to reflect on these challenges. It's not just the challenges that warrant reflection, but the many blessings of our little farm that make the cold work tolerable. When we learned we would be moving to Indiana, the task of finding a new home within our price range seemed monumental. Not many people attempt to move an entire small farm. The New Still Waters Farm has turned out to be just perfect for us.

A mobile home on virgin land, may be fine for starting a homestead in the south. Throw up a fence and nail together some range shelters, and you are ready for goats. If you live in an area where winter temperatures are more brutal, I recommend you carefully think through your infrastructure before bringing home livestock.

The first winter blessing of our property is an insulated garage that is practically heated. OK, my husband says the garage it is not supposed to be heated. The furnace is in the garage and some heat is going into the garage. At any rate it is nice. We keep the kid's bunnies in there, and I don't have to worry about frozen little annoying water bottles. Tonight the dogs were brought in to their kennels. They are very tolerant of the cold, but since this is especially bad, I brought them in. It's also a convenient place to keep bottle babies. In the winter I bring my water hose into the garage so it won't freeze in between feeding times.

The next winter blessing is that our farm came with a nice sized barn and outbuildings. I'm able to do most of my work out of the wind. That makes a huge difference in comfort level. Tonight I had to break down and pull out my coveralls. It's very important when temperatures plunge below freezing to minimize the amount of skin exposed to the cold air. The goats are stalled in the barn. I use a deep bedding system. As the bedding composts underneath them, it creates warmth. The horse and pony have a round bale, so they are happy. The chickens got an extra treat tonight - I finally plugged in the heat lamp. I had to unplug their water heater in order to do it, but I figured they wouldn't be trying to drink at night anyway. I'll have to go out and plug it back in in the morning.

Water is of great concern in the winter with water buckets freezing over. Bucket heaters require alot of energy, so we provide water the old fashioned way. I go out and break the ice and haul buckets of water from the frost free pump. Frigid temperatures require extra time and attention to details, but I have to say I really do enjoy getting out doing my work. I don't think there can be anything healthier than GOING OUTSIDE!