Monday, January 6, 2014

Battening Down the Hatches!

I don’t need to state the obvious here…its flippin’ cold! Today and tomorrow, Ohio is experiencing the coldest temperatures in like, 15 years. Right this minute its negative 4 degrees outside, with a wind chill of negative 15. (Secretly I think it’s cool. Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up with winters like these all the time and she turned out OK in the end. Her hubby Almanzo grew up 11 miles from the Canadian border. I don’t think they closed his school due to cold temperatures.)
Anyhoo, I want to backtrack to New Year’s Day.  What a tease the first day of the New Year was! Almost 50 degrees, which would feel like summer right about now! Like a sauna! The wind was coming up from the South and felt more like April than (obviously) January.  I took advantage of the warmer weather and stole out to the barn for a bit. Snow was in the forecast even before this arctic blast, so I wanted to make sure everything outside was prepared for it.
I cleaned stalls and cleaned out the chicken coop. I also emptied out the old trough-roost in the kennel area. It was full of poo and other debris. I put in fresh hay incase the ladies wanted to snuggle inside once the colder air came.
I also laid out their tower of crates and put hay in all the boxes with the same idea as the trough-roost.
Looking back I’m really glad I did this, since while I was out in the barn at noon today there were some chickies taking advantage of these cozy areas. I scrubbed out the waterer and added oyster shells to the free choice oyster shell bin. I called out Dan and he put up the plexi-glass in the windows and doors of the chicken coop with the hope of keeping in as much warmth as possible.
Now the arrival of the frigid air today, I did go out a couple of times to check on the automatic waterer the horses and steers share. There was a skiff of ice that I broke a couple of times, though a push with a large nose could have broken it too. The chicken water heater was doing its job because theirs was not frozen at all.
The barn on the Shawhan farm is as closed tight as an old drafty barn can get. Throughout the day the barnyard looked pretty empty; no chickens or steers running around in the lot and the horses stayed behind the barn, or inside of it, as the wind blew most of the day. A couple of times the Beefy Boys braved the winter wonderland and ventured over to the stuffer, but for the most part my view of the barnyard was an oddly empty one.
It’s so funny to look out from the frozen pasture to back yard and imagine sweltering heat, green grass and the hum of the lawn mower. Or to look out across the driveway to barren garden buried under our very own tundra and think that only a few months ago it was green and plentiful with corn, beans and tomatoes.
After Christmas I am always ready to skip the winter months and go straight into spring. New Year’s Day, with its spring-like warmth made me want to dig my fingers in the dirt and plant something. But, I suppose if we must drudge through winter, at least it is feeling like winter and actually being one. All the snow and the freezing of the ground is ideal for gardens and farmers’ fields. Plus, Laura Ingalls braved harsh winters and blizzards her whole life. She knew how to put on her big girl panties and deal with it. Now it is our turn to batten down the hatches and pick out the cute pink Victoria Secret undies with the hearts and stars on them, pull them up to our belly buttons and solider on.

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