OK, I like winter, but I don't really like temps below 20 degrees F. I don't really see a need for anything colder than that, know what I mean Vern? Twenty degrees is plenty cold enough to get snow, which the skiers like, and it makes everything look pretty, but anything lower than that is really not necessary, IMHO. Today the temperature is around 9 degrees, but the windchill factor makes it feel like -5 or -10F.
The chickens don't come out in this weather. If they come out at all, they quickly change their little minds and go back in. The sheep? Do. Not. Care. After all, they are wearing 3-4 inches of wool, and they have a bedding pack which is composting and generating its own heat. It's sort of like radiant floor heating for your barn. I know because I went out with the ewes yesterday and sat down in their shelter for a bit, and my fanny was actually warm. Later, we pulled up a layer of bedding to move some out to the hoophouse for the rams, and you could see parts of it steaming in the cold air and if you put your hand down, it was pleasantly warm. But even when the sheep venture out of the shelter, you get the feeling that they hardly notice the cold. In fact, they're downright frisky. One of the ewes did a leap in the air yesterday like a gazelle, just because she could.
What was really weird yesterday was our sighting of FOUR BLUEBIRDS. Yes, the kind that people put up special birdhouses for and try to get pairs to breed in. The state bird of NY. We saw them yesterday, while it was snowing, sitting in our crabapple tree where we have the bird feeders. We did a quick search and found that occassionally bluebirds do overwinter in the north, and apparently these four figured they were tough enough to stick it out. I wonder what they're thinking of that decision now? We found recipes online for making your own bluebird food, and plans for mealworm feeders. We have suet cakes out, so that will have to do for now. But we haven't seen them again, so they may have moved on (they're probably thinking "Florida or bust!" though it's a bit late to migrate).
What's really annoying about cold weather? Hauling 5 gallon buckets of water out of the house every day. In my next barn, I want a frost-free spigot. Thankfully we do have a de-icer for the big tank, it's just that while the rams are inside, we have to carry water for them. In fact, when they go out to the hoophouse pasture, we'll have to carry water out there since they won't have access to the big tank. Something to look forward to! Maybe it will be a little warmer by then.
I agree, 20 degrees is when it feels *really* cold. Amazing, when you think about it. Just a few months ago, 40 degrees was really cold. Now I can go outside in a sweatshirt down to about 32 degrees and think, Wow, it warmed up! LOL!
Comment from: christine
Hello, I just found your site and it looks like your farm is heaven for sheep. Wanted to ask you a favour. I have a pet sheep that I want to place in a forever home with possibly sheep for friends! He lives with dogs and horses right now. He was an orphan and of course I wouldnt let anybody kill him after so I got him castrated and now he just hangs around. His name is Earl and he comes when he is called. He is pretty big but no horns. I live in near Lindsay Ontario which is 1 1/2 N.E. of Toronto. If you know of any nice people around these parts please contact me.
I would really like to place him somewhere, where he will have a job of just cutting grass…
Anybody that I met around here say they want him but I know he will end up in a sale barn.
Thanks so much for your time.