Friday, January 21, 2011

Just Cold

Today is the coldest day of this winter so far. It was -8 F or -22 C when I went out to chore this morning. When temperatures are that low, we take certain precautions. I wear a heavy face mask. I forgot to remove my glasses before going out. With the face mask, you build up some condensation from your breath on them and then it freezes. When I am not using my fingers, they are balled up into fists in my heavy gloves. You actually try not to wear too many layers because when you do move, you sweat and then when you stop moving, it gets cold.

Thermometer reads -8 F

Managing the livestock when it is that cold takes a few extra bits of attentions. First, the cattle take their hay down in the cover of the timber. I drag it down there on tarps and dump it for them to eat. I was impressed that our Cobett cattle water had less then a half an inch of ice buildup on top. That is thin enough that the cattle can break through it, but I usually open it up for them. I also collect eggs twice per day to limit the number of eggs that will freeze and crack in the building.

Cattle eating hay in the cover of the timber

Cattle Cobett water 

We have been lambing for several weeks now. I am down to two ewes left to lamb. As the ewes have been lambing, I have been moving them inside. The last two ewes to lamb are inside right now. We currently have 11 lambs with their mothers inside. We have some lambing trouble with with our Barbados ewes. They have not maintained their body condition on winter hay like our Katahdin sheep and we have lost a few more lambing.

 Ewes with lambs at feeding time

 One nice thing about winter is it is time to think about the next year and do some planning. Janice and I have a beginning farmer planning workshop coming up, we have been reassessing our production levels, and trying to plan farm expansion and look for some efficiencies. We recently did some visioning exercises and my wife has placed mine in a place of "honor." She blogged about it. It is nice to think about the future and try to work out the many kinks in our little farm. Other then this planning, I have done some tree work with Jim, but for the most part, I have been inside with Hazel taking care of her and enjoying her company.

Hazel playing in her room

I will start working for the federal government at the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Newton part time. My skill sets are perfect for this work and are just not going to fit better anywhere that close to home. We used student loans to come up with the down payment on our land and this job represents a way out of that debt with in in two to two-and-a-half years. It will mean less time to farm so we are paying considerable attention to efficiencies on the farm and we will be thinning down our sheep herd to our best animals this year. I do not know if other changes will emerge, but for the time, these are the only changes we have currently planned. I will keep you posted on any changes that come up.

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