Rosy was in her makeshift shelter this afternoon, peacefully choping on her cud and merrily relaxing as if it was a balmy day. The other sheep in her breeding group, the Babydolls, were all outside in the elements, eating away. One good thing is that sheep will eat snow and require little water in the winter. I still carry buckets and hammer the ice out of their rubber tubs and buckets and give them fresh water, but most of them do not even come for a drink. So that makes my 22 five gallon buckets down instantly to 12, just a little over half of what I would normally offer. And the cows are not here presently. They drink huge amounts of water. They can go to the creek, but prefer it delivered! Chickens and ducks to a certain extent will eat snow too, but they prefer water and the ducks and geese still require a bucket in which they can dip their faces to moisten their eyes. If there is enough water, they will still bathe, despite today's minus 18 with a windchill, feels like minus 28 temperature.
I was still moving some animals around and fortifying the shelters where needed. The turkeys were to go to the butcher's on Wednesday, but they cancelled and it has been put off until next Wednesday, the 14th. They were in large cages and were shivering, which is rare for turkeys, but the wind was coming under them and I knew they were cold. They got moved to the coop that had the born in the bush (or wherever) chickens that do not go in the main coop and those chickens got moved in with the remainder of the true Ameraucanas that the fox left behind, mostly beautiful roosters. Unfortunately, but for two, they are going to have the same fate as the turkeys, on the 14th. The hens will be left behind for egg layers in the spring. One of the white Chanteclers lays an egg a day thorugh this cold weather, and a few others give some eggs now and then, but basically production has ceased for a couple of months. This naturally gives the hen's bodies a much needed rest. Some force egg production with artificial lights and such, but I prefer nature to reign here. The hens are happier and healthier when they are allowed to have that winter rest.
Seven ram lambs went to the abbatoir this morning at 7 am. I know, I know. I am not usually up and out working at that time, but the bucher shop wanted the lambs there by 8. I could not catch the piglets, a dozen of which were supposed to be on that butcher bus, so the majority will go next week. The sows will leave tomorrow for freezer camp. No more piggies after the babies are gone. Since I cannot find non sprayed grain in this area, I won't be raising pigs or likely eating pork. But the lamb is grass fed and there will be copious quantities and the heifers are going to have calfs in January and February at a calving barn, so if one or both are boys, they will be steers for beef. Such is the way of the farm.
In the meantime, my herbal infusion of horsetail, wild red raspberry leaf and wild bergamot tea is soothing. An old blue spotted enamel pot sits atop the woodstove simmering some lavender essential oil from Salt Spring Island with a few drops of Eygyptian geranium and pine. The cosy little farmhouse is warm and comforting, but I wish you were all here to join me.
Til you can come...