Water Water Everywhere
The thermometer says 14 degrees this morning, time for water to freeze and make our life difficult. We have multiple water sources to keep frost free and flowing and it’s a twice a day job.
Right now the cows drink from a pond that needs the ice broken with a sledge hammer and scooped clear with a manure fork, both kept at the pond for the purpose. Some mornings the ice is several inches thick and takes quite a bit of pounding to break a clear spot for drinking. In winters past we’ve had to break steps in the ice so the cows can get down to the water safely. This year we’ll open 3 gates so the cows can meander down the lane and drink from the automatic heated waterer by the barn. More cows drinking from it keeps the water flowing and running water doesn’t freeze.
The sheep have a different waterer, the one on the circuit breaker that trips itself for no apparent reason, letting the water freeze and that starts a thawing process that can take weeks meaning we haul water in buckets until warmer weather helps it thaw.
If the cows waterer freezes we can hook a hose up to a hydrant in the barn and water them with that but then the hose has to be disconnected and drained, at least twice or they’ll both freeze. Even wrapped in heat tape the hydrant will still freeze at the first opportunity.
We have water troughs with heaters we could use but that has it’s own set of problems. If we use the tall one that holds lots of water the calves can’t reach inside to drink. If we use the low one they drink all the water and then toss the trough about breaking the heater and filling the trough with mud, and stuff that isn’t mud.
Cerin, the sheep guard dog has a low tech solution to freezing water. An old tire, lined with rocks with his water bucket inside. The tire and rocks absorb what heat the sun provides and while it doesn’t prevent freezing it at least slows it enough for him to have drinkable water for a bit. And we don’t have to worry about him chewing on an electrical cord.
The chickens have their own bucket, nestled in the straw in their coop and their sharp beaks will keep their ice broken a good long while. As soon as they get fresh water they all crowd around and have a good drink, even if they still had access to their water. Most practical of them, not what you’d expect from a bunch of hens.
To fill their water buckets we dip water from the heated waterers. Warmer water for them and taking water from them keeps the water flowing just that much longer and keeps the hydrant in the barn from being needed and prevents it freezing.
If I know a good cold snap is coming I’ll put fresh salt out for everyone, they’ll be thirsty and have a good long drink, more flowing water through the waterers. Less freezing.
It might seem like this is an awful lot of worry and bother for a bit of ice but if you’ve ever had to haul water from the house to water a few animals then imagine doing that for 19 cows, a dozen sheep, a baker’s dozen or so of hens, one loudly complaining cat and a dog the size of a boxcar. And repeating that twice a day until something thaws.
What does winter bring to you? Candy
What better way to warm up than with a hot bowl of chicken soup?
Chicken and Potato Soup
1 whole chicken
4 large potatoes
1 cup peas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon each sage, rosemary and thyme
Wash chicken and place in large pot. Cover with water.
Peel carrots and potatoes and cut into bite sized pieces and add. Add spices, onion and garlic.
Simmer away until chicken is falling off the bone.
Remove chicken from pot and let cool a bit.
Debone chicken. We use dark meat in the soup and save white meat for sandwiches and/or casseroles.
Cook a few more minutes to warm everything back up.
We had ours with gluten free biscuits.