Thursday, January 2, 2014
I have to share a little something. I find it annoying when people complain about the weather. Because, really, there is not one single thing anyone can do to change things, so why whine and kvetch? That being said my friend and I often put on thick, fake Maine accents and say things like, "Geeze 'em, missy, ain't it some wicked cold out?"
So, I am not complaining when I tell you that taking care of my beloved animals in this weather is not for the faint of heart. I have all the good gear now; lined overalls, a thick weather proof jacket, ear protection, neck warmer, sturdy boots and gloves, but still, it is a challenge.
I got home from work early today, there was still a chunk of daylight left, and that was a good thing because I had a few obstacles to overcome. The first was that there was a thin layer of snow and ice on the threshold of the garage door. I am in and out that door many times during the day, because that is where I milk the goat and store the livestock feed. The door was unable to latch because of the ice, and I had to carefully (so as to not damage the weather stripping,) chip it off. I was most pleased when I was finally able to shut the thing with a solid thud and have it remain latched.
The next challenge was that the vent on the chicken coop, (a wired affair to let air move but keep predators out) was wide open and stuck that way due to previous ice freezing it in position. Snow had fallen off the coop roof, too, and further mucked things up. This vent faces north, and a nasty north wind was blowing in, right at roost level. I took a garden hoe out and chopped and whacked and cussed a bit, finally managing to get the covering door freed up and mostly closed. Closed enough to keep the wind out, at least. I did a slippery little victory dance in the snow.
Then I took a bucket of hot water laced with molasses out to the goat and horse. It is so cold I was pretty sure the sensible goat had not set a hoof out of her shed all day, and the heated water bucket is a pretty good distance from there. She greedily sucked down about a gallon of water, and the horse enjoyed the rest. While I was out I grabbed a pitchfork and cleaned all the shavings and manure out of the pony shed. These went into a muck bucket, which I then had to carry over a treacherous path to the manure pile. It took three trips. Then I hiked back to the garage and grabbed a bale of shavings. It is no easy task to wrestle one of these with thick gloves on (and I had gloves and mittens, doubled up!) but I prevailed. I bedded the horse down with clean shavings, then decided the goat needed more on her side, too, so hauled out another bag and made her bedding deeper and hopefully warmer. The animals are clearly bored and lonely; both the horse and the goat were very affectionate, nuzzling me and begging for pats.
The wonderful new Nibble Net (see previous blog post) was securely fastened to the gate, but we are expecting lots of snow and very cold weather with dangerous wind chills tonight and tomorrow, and I wanted to move it inside the shed so the pony could eat without being in a blizzard. It was so cold that the snap hooks that fasten the straps which hold the net up were frozen solid. Back to the house for a jar of hot water. I poured that on the snaps, and once I had the net freed I took it inside the house for a while until all the snaps were well thawed. Then I carried it back out, stuffed it full of fresh hay and trudged back out to the shed. I had to get creative to find a place to hang it safely. Once I did, I realized that the snaps were frozen once again. I had to cup them against my mouth and breath on them until they were freed up, then quickly manipulate them to where I wanted them to be before they seized up again. Meanwhile the bored pony was nibbling my hat and coat sleeves, and investigating every pocket in case there was a hidden pony treat. Sadly for her, there was not.
I decided that both horse and goat could use a little high energy snack to help them stay warm, so back to the garage for a small scoop of grain mix and a little alfalfa. The goodies and scratches were appreciated by both.
On my way past the bird feeder I noticed a little chickadee, missing some feathers and clearly struggling. The feeder was nearly empty, so I scooped up more sunflower seeds while the wee thing clung to the feeder in the cold wind. It never moved when I heaped a pile of food in front of it, and I had a fleeting desire to lift it up and bring it in by the wood stove for a while, but decided the better of it and headed in to make supper.
After more than an hour outside in negative temperatures there was just one thing to cook, hot soup! I made a cream of broccoli and spinach concoction that was just the soul warming thing we needed on a frigid winter night.
Not that I am complaining.