The hay racks are empty. The hay pile stored in the pig shed is long gone. The stack of hand baled hay in the barn is down to the last row. I purchased hay for the first time in mid December, buying two giant round hay bales, and I officially broke into the last one yesterday. It will last three weeks or more, but then it will be gone too, and we are months away from green pastures. Are the animals nervous?
Nah. All they care about is getting to eat plenty right now. I'll buy more hay when the time comes. Considering this is the second winter with animals, and this is the first time I've had to pay any money for hay, I think we're doing pretty good. A months worth of hay for four goats and two donkeys cost me fifteen dollars. Look how adorable those shaggy donkey foreheads are. Of course they are worth it!
Brandon built the goats a new hay basket. He used an old fence panel made from heavy wire, and bent it into a square and hung it on the gate. I can scratch hay from the nearby bale, and use the pitch fork to fill the basket. The goats can pull the hay from the holes in the basket with their lips. They waste some, as they don't like to eat hay once it's been stepped on, but then they sleep on what falls to the floor. I read that each goat should have three to five pounds of hay per day. I fill the basket with hay twice a day, and everyone seems to get plenty.
I counted, and in a single day of being snow bound I took sixteen pictures of sleeping cats. Cats really know how to enjoy a warm fire and a cozy blanket!
I enjoy looking at my snow covered domain from the second floor window. I can see the paths we make in the snow during our daily chores. I can also see the fly on the window! It's three degrees outside and we have flies in the windows. It's not fair! These cluster flies are hardy bugs, for sure.
See that tiny brown egg? What's up with that? The hens are starting to lay more eggs now that the days are longer. Especially the hens that lay blue eggs. This morning Brandon made breakfast and bragged about how it was made from only blue eggs. He thinks that's special because I normally want him to use the blue eggs last, because they look pretty in my basket. I gave a dozen eggs to a friend once, with one blue egg, and she told me later she was peeved when her husband used the blue egg first. I know!
The chickens have spent their snow days closed up in the chicken coop. They don't like to come out into the snow anyway, so I put some fresh hay on the coop floor and gave them a feeder full of pellets and a bucket of water. During the previous cold spell, I fed them outside like usual, but they spent most of their time in the barn pooping on everything, so this time I let them stay in their own space.
Nice tail feathers, Cogburn.
The guineas are sometimes bullies, but even after being locked up together, with three roosters, for several days, I didn't see any evidence of abuse. I'm hoping this time together will force MJ, the little hen that was raised with the dodos, to become more of a normal chicken. She's afraid to sleep with the big chickens still, and I find her sleeping on the floor of the coop instead of roosting.
It's so cold I've been really appreciating my face mask. Balaclava, not baklava, right?
How much snow did we get? I don't know, but it was chest high to a corgi!
I was trying to capture the sparkles in the snow. Can you see the sparkles? With the sun at just the right angle, it looked like diamonds spread on the snow.
The sunset through the greenhouse plastic made it glow.
Some places the snow was smooth or rippling. Other places were cris-crossed with rabbit tracks and tiny bird feet prints. When I pull the tarp from the hay bale in the morning, little birds and mice make a run for it.
I was talking to my horse owning friend about the challenges of providing water to animals in the winter. He said his ten cows and several horses will empty a hundred gallon water tank every day during this cold weather. He wrestles hoses every day, trying to keep them drained so they don't freeze.
I put a bucket under the bathroom faucet and one under the shower and leave them drip through the night so the lines don't freeze. In the morning, I carry the full buckets outside and fill up the animals heated buckets. Between the goats, donkeys, chickens, and dog, I carry about four gallons of water a day. It's really not bad. I'm glad I don't have any cows!