The Winter Homestead
Last month, I asked my newsletter subscribers what kind of things they’d like to see me write about this year. I got some great answers – thank you to everyone that responded!
Several asked for more behind-the-scenes type posts, more information on how daily life goes on around here, and how we deal with farm-related challenges that arise.
With that in mind, today I thought I’d share a bit about how this winter has been on our little homestead/hobby farm.
First up: the challenges. The biggest one has been the freezing record low temperatures. Several mornings I’ve woken up to the outside water spigot being frozen (along with our shower) and so have had to tote buckets of warm water from the basement down to the animal areas. This is not fun.
By lunchtime, everything is frozen again, so the process has to be repeated.
All of the animals are given extra hay and snuggly places to keep warm. The bunny cages are covered up with old sleeping bags at night to give them a more insulated area and protection from the bitter wind. They also have lots of extra hay inside and out of their little wooden houses.
Ducks are cheerful little creatures that are pretty happy no matter what the weather is! As long as they have plenty of water, they’re content. Some days we fill up their little pond by the bucketful, but on the very coldest days they make do with buckets of water.
They have several buckets in various places, but still like to hop in everybody elses too – as you can see by the photo, below!
Predators are a huge threat this time of year. I know they’re hungry and just acting out their natural animal instinct to survive, but we can’t allow them to dine on our critters.
We keep everyone closed up tightly at night. We’ve only had one fox incident and one hawk incident during the day (in eight years of poultry keeping); usually the danger zone is right after dark.
Twice this winter, we’ve had chickens killed by a raccoon. One evening at dusk, right as I was putting on my coat to put everyone up, I heard a lot of quacking and a duck completely vanished. The raccoon in the picture below was cornered by our goats two days later, so he was a prime suspect.
All of the animals get bored being cooped up (just like us humans!) and tired of the same old, same old.
They all enjoy big piles of hay to munch on, scratch through or burrow into. The bunnies look forward to fresh spinach salads each day, the goats get apples, cabbage and other fresh produce and the chickens get flock blocks to eliminate potential pecking due to boredom.
I also try to remember that it’s a tough time for birds and squirrels. I leave out extra scratch grain and layer crumbles – away from the general chicken area to avoid parasites & disease and also in a place that the cat won’t find them easy prey.
Winter is full of challenges, but there’s a lot of fun to be found in it too! We’ve had a great time building tracks for sledding:
We’ve made snow ice cream, maple snow candy, snowballs, snow angels, snowmen….
Once we’re all snowed out, we head inside and enjoy hanging out by our wood stove in our cozy, warm living room.
Winter is cold and long and dreary and gray, but it makes spring that much sweeter when it finally arrives!
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