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Everyone in SE MN is pretty aware of the impending cold--not just temps, but windchills, blowing snow, and general "OH GEEZ" that's due to hit solidly for the next three days.
I've been calling this #ArticBlast2019 because it is just going to be that fun. Sarcasm intended!
As a farm girl, this weather brings out what I think of as the "Hunker Down" mode. Hunker Down happens after lots of preparation, all hands on deck, go, go GO! Hunker Down is not a cozy time with hot cocoa, books, or blankets in front of a fireplace.
Animals have to be bedded extra, fed more than usual, and tended to more carefully. Picking up extra beet pulp last week, finding bedding to spread, and keeping up with all the kidding was part of the preparation program. My momma goats are going to need lots of energy to keep up with feeding babies AND dealing with sub zero temps.
During this stretch of arctic weather, I will watch for stressed goats...the ones who are slower than usual, and whose feed intake is off from the norm. Sometimes they stand by themselves...or are just alone a lot. This year will be strenuous and taxing for me as I'm trying to monitor fourteen babies, as well as their mommas well-being.
Watching their water supply (is it freezing? Oh...no....) with paranoia is included in this prep and hunker mode. No one wants to haul 5 gallon buckets of sloshing water in sub zero temps, especially me. Been there...done that....
The barn's drafty spots are sought out with intensity, and filled with old feed sacks boards, or hay bales. Every bit helps to keep the cold drafts out.
Baby goat bellies will be palpitated multiple times a day. "Is your belly full?" I ask as I go. Less than full means find the momma, or force another momma to nurse. No belly goes unfed in the cold! Lots of energy (food) is required to stay warm!
Heat lamps are setup now in three different areas, but making sure that baby goats are comfortable is key. Shivery, shaky baby goats are a red alert for action. Bring to momma, get warm milk in their belly, and park them under the heat lamp, STAT!
Extra time is spent doing the most mundane, which is to monitor. My eyes and mind are busy, but the rest of me is still. My feet are getting cold, my hands are usually cold, raw, and red, but watching for a few extra minutes can help me catch a potential health situation early, as well as give me a baseline.
My chickens get extra bedding, too, and I made suet to help supplement their feed. Laying eggs in the cold takes extra energy! They stand one-footed, fluffed up, doing their best to conserve heat and energy. A heated waterer solves my main concern for their water supply; refilling it in the cold is NOT fun...carefully done, I will say. Monitoring their behavior, and making sure everyone is up and moving is important for the chickens, as well.
Taking care of animals is one part of this cold spell, and the other is taking care of me. I can't call in and have someone else cover this for me; it's me in the cold, tending my animals, and so taking care of ME and some time for self care is important.
I dig out my long underwear, layer up, and switch my wet clothes for dry ones almost every trip back from the barn. I have my heavy duty winter boots on, even though they weigh a ton and collect the most goat poo in the tread. Those boots are worth it; if my feet get cold, I'm done. They do their job well with keeping me warm!
The fridge is full. I grocery shopped ahead of time so that I wouldn't have to take time away from animals, or worry about a vehicle not starting when I need it to.
No appointments or reasons to drive or go out in the bitter cold are slated for this three day stretch. I have plenty to do in the house and barn! I already know I won't get bored or cabin crazy...
That said, the prep is pretty much done. Let's do this. Hunker Down, all!