This last week has been bitterly cold here on the prairies yet I was struck by a comment on a site moaning about the weather, “it feels just like winter “. This was seconded by some friends of mine who worked for many years in a northern community. Despite the fact that school buses were cancelled for three days last week (this has happened before at least once in my short six year career of driving buses) to me it seemed no colder than a usual winter.
My house is warm and as long as the water doesn’t freeze I’m quite happy to just veg inside. I remember many February’s spent trudging to the back to check the sheep every two hours during lambing season. Imagine weighing only ten pounds, arriving dripping wet in a -40C windchill, and your mother has chosen the remotest, coldest corner of the yard to give birth, because she is hot and wants privacy. My kitchen and bathtub always had a lamb or three in it. Amazingly resilient, I’ve brought them into the house seemingly frozen solid, yet, after twenty minutes on the heat register, or wrapped in a blanket warmed in the dryer with a hot water bottle, they were up and bawling to be fed. Thankfully I no longer have sheep and now that I’m not worried about markets, I can time my babies for much warmer weather.
I always worry about the livestock though, especially the goats as they are so much more tender than the sheep. But they’ve been in the barn now for the past week, with a heat lamp and all the food they can eat. They are usually shivering humped up creatures–but not this year. For whatever reason they seem quite comfortable which lets me sleep at night. Piggy as you saw last time is also quite comfy–but my big outside dog is a challenge. She hates to be confined and prefers to sleep outside. This was fine when I had the sheep. She would snuggle down between a few and be toasty warm. But the goats are not snugglers. They are, in fact, quite miserable. Momma goat had to be tied in the barn so she doesn’t beat on her daughter, and drive her out into the cold. Because they are social animals momma goat would then follow Sissy outside and there they’d be–both cold and reluctant to go into the barn. So I tie momma goat. Sissy will go in as momma only has about 4 feet of play in her rope. If I bar the door the dog can’t get in. If I lock the dog in with the goats I’m sure she will kill them trying to get out. Every dog house I’ve made has been untouched. She refuses to use them preferring to sleep in the hay compound exposed to the elements. This year I came up with a solution. The barn is insulated around the bottom four feet but the door is just half inch plywood. I’ve hung a down sleeping bag over the entrance which stops the wind and it’s flexible enough the dog can come and go as she likes. The goats also like it. Sissy goat has figured out how to lift a corner to let herself out and so has the dog.
There are enough chickens in the coop to keep it warm with just body heat. It’s always 15 degrees warmer inside than outside but the eggs still freeze, not that’s there’s many eggs. Poor girls have enough work just to stay warm never mind producing eggs. I get maybe 6-8 a week which is enough. The frozen ones are for my little dog and the new cat. They both love eggs.
Poor Fuzzbutt got neutered last week, and shaved of all his wooly-ness. So he’s definitely an indoor cat for the duration.The guineas all line up outside facing south as there’s actually quite a bit of heat in the sun these days.The wild birds are also hungry in the cold. I bring home a big bag of meaty scraps for the big dog from the butchers and this last batch had lots of thick fatty bits I put out for the chickadees and woodpeckers. It’s quite the job to keep the feeders filled but once they come to depend on them as a source of food you simply can’t not keep them full.Back to work again tomorrow. It will be much milder than last week but still cold. So I’m not too sure about the polar vortex. I think it’s just a Saskatchewan winter.