Last year on the day after christmas I was blessed to be given about three dozen left over christmas trees to feed to the goats. However this year, the day after christmas fell on a Saturday and since we don't work that day getting trees was out of the question.
Today the kids and I were headed into town and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a sign that said "FREE branches" that was posted in front of a large pile of fir branches! We quickly finished our errand in town and then came home to get the F-150 and headed back to the location. I picked up enough branches to fill the truck to the roof level of the cab, and could have gone back for more if the truck wouldn't have gotten stuck on the hill coming back up from the goat pen.
The goats will happily strip those branches, including the bark and it will save me at least a little on feed costs. Adonai is good!
Ari getting birthday wishes from Allie
Seems like just yesterday I was handed my newborn baby boy but actually just yesterday he turned four years old. He has helped occasionally with the chores in the past, but as of yesterday he now has "official" chores to do outside just like his older sister.
He was such a little soldier marching out the door this morning. He listened carefully to my instructions and every time I paused he responded with a "Yes Sir!" Hopefully his enthusiasm will last more than one day, although lately his sister who used to be just as enthusiastic has been trying to get out doing her chores. I'm guessing the weather has a lot to do with enthusiasm levels as there are days lately that I'd rather not have to leave the house too.
The cold front has finally moved on after dumping freezing rain on us Friday night. Still have a thin coat of ice on the water troughs, but compared to just few days ago it feels down right balmy outside.
The does are taking full advantage of the warmer, drier weather today to graze in the bottom pasture. When I went out to check on them at noon they looked like they had all swallowed a water melon! :)
As for me, I'm just thrilled that I'm not having to haul hot water to the animals from the house this week!
4' thick chunks of ice off of the water trough
Extreme cold continues in the Willamette Valley. At 7am this morning it was 14 degrees and then the temperature started dropping. At 9am it has finally climbed back up to 12 degrees! Forecast high for today is supposed to be 30 degrees.
Needless to say the goats water troughs were covered in thick ice - about 4 inches thick to be exact. After breaking the ice and scooping out as much of it as I could I hauled about 30 gallons of hot water from the house. Bet you can't guess that my dream barn would include running hot & cold water.
Allie didn't want the moderately warm water in the trough, she only wanted the hot water. So I made a point to use a 5 gallon bucket instead of watering can for at least one trip so she could drink her fill. Yup - my herd queen is spoiled. :)
And speaking of Allie she was in heat yesterday so I put her in with Rio. He is about 7 1/2 months old now, and I thought it was time to see if he was up to being a stud yet. He didn't seem at all confused about what his job was and got right to down to business.
He did nearly suffer a disaster on his second attempt. A very brisk breeze was blowing and when he started peeing on himself (it apparently makes the bucks more attractive to the ladies) he started shivering so badly that when he mounted Allie the second time he fell over. Fortunately I managed not to laugh out loud at him and Allie was very gracious and understanding and seemed to be trying to help him regain his confidence. And while he didn't try again right away he did eventually get over the blow to his ego and get on with it. Now we just have to wait three weeks to see if he was successful or not.
Peggy Sue & Prudence enjoying breakfast
Hay! Its whats for breakfast - especially when the temps are in the teens! Most of the year I don't feed any hay at all since they have plenty of pasture. But icy grass and cold water don't keep a goat warm. The long fiber in grass hay stimulates rumen wall contractions, which in turn creates body heat and keeps the goats warm.
So on those rare occasions that we get freezing temperatures I feed them hay in addition to their usual alfalfa pellets and haul hot water from the house out to the various watering troughs. Last year, when we still had the cows I hauled over 80 gallons of hot water in two, 2 gallon watering cans in a single morning. The watering can spouts allow me to pour water into the trough without having to go into the pasture and they are easier on my back than using 5 gallon buckets. Plus I'm less likely to get water on myself.
The chickens also benefit from the warm water, and will come running when I start pouring. It helps to keep their egg production going, just like it helps keep milk production up.
We usually have pretty mild winters with freezing temps not coming until January or February. But at present we are being treated to an "arctic cold front" that started on Wednesday. The temps for tonight are expected to be in the teens, and we are already starting to experience the forecast high winds.
Fortunately, with a lot of help from a friend the sliding barn door was finally installed on the front of the barn on Tuesday afternoon. Unfortunately, the barn is set up to protect the goats from the southwest winds that we usually get. But this storm is blowing in from the northeast so there are some serious drafts in the barn and goat houses.
Cold temperatures also necessitates extra feed for the goats and chickens to help them generate more body heat. So along with giving them warm water to drink I have been supplementing them with hay. Extra chores in this weather aren't fun, but as I keep telling my daughter, its all a part of being a farm girl.