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I Can’t Wait

December 10, 2013
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for the weather to break… .  It’s a little painful to watch the wood and hay stacks disappear quickly in early December.  It seems hard to accumulate a winter’s worth of wood and hay.  I think because you don’t cut firewood or make hay every day, but you sure use it every day when we get weather like this.  I know, I know, it’s much colder in other areas for longer periods of time, but here?  These cold spells don’t happen but once in a blue moon,  but I guess this was a blue moon year, so we’re due.

Earlier in the year when the newspaper went to a 4 day publication schedule, I was lamenting that I wouldn’t have enough paper to start the fire with…well, since the cold snap the fires haven’t went out, so the newspaper stack is growing even if the wood stack is disappearing.

If only he could run the wood splitter

If only he could run the wood splitter

Before the cold came, we moved to part two of plan B and moved the cows close for easy access for feeding.  We’re still feeding outside for a bit, so expect a post on how I changed my grazing plan this season to accommodate Plan B.  Chopping ice on water troughs is a twice a day chore.  Watering the hens twice a day also has kept the hens in full lay mode and us swimming in eggs.  I am loving my one blue egg a day in the nest box, it’s a bright spot in the cold of the winter weather.  The kitties have been enjoying a couple of eggs in the cold, not much hunting going on.

I chickened out on the potatoes in the straw bale root cellar, when we reached 11°F for a couple of nights, I decided to bring the potatoes to the basement.  I left some test boxes of each variety in the barn though to see how they will fare.  After the 11 degree nights, we had a three-day stretch where the nighttime temperatures got down to 5°F and 6°F, so it’ll be a grand experiment to see how the potatoes fare.  I know now 11°F is doable without anything more than straw bales for insulation, those potatoes are fine.  The vegetables left in the garden?  Only time will tell on that.  I expect it will be the weekend before we see any significant thawing of the ground.  I would have liked to see snow before the freeze for snow’s wonderful insulating factor, but it was not be.  The soil froze, then we got the snow, so now the snow will be insulating the frozen ground.  I suspect some damage, but that is why I over-plant.  I expect to lose some vegetables to something.  That’s also why I preserve vegetables too.  We’re definitely not going  hungry.

Ram overflow

Ram overflow

A little cabin fever eh?

A little cabin fever eh?

So it goes, I’m feeling a little like Art in the picture above despite being outside quite a bit.  I’ll be glad for our usual dreary, rainy days, but until then I’ve decided that 25°F feels a whole lot better than 10°F when you’re chopping ice!

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. December 10, 2013 12:15 pm

    Before we went to the heated water barrel system – we used to heat bricks on the wood stove and toss them into the water to keep it from freezing – and just trade them
    out twice a day.

    • December 10, 2013 1:05 pm

      Good idea – so glad it doesn’t really get too cold here very often. Usually the old blacksmith trick of putting a big limb in the trough does the trick. The cows use that stick to help them break the ice. I kind of miss the days they could go water themselves at a spring hole, and leave us to not worry about their water.

      Might use that brick trick in the milk cow’s bucket if it gets this cold again 🙂

  2. December 10, 2013 12:22 pm

    May GOD Bless You and keep your family warm.

  3. December 10, 2013 12:46 pm

    Much sympathy from Latvia. Usually it is us that is getting the lows, whilst it is cold today, we have had an unseasonably warm time of it and the first snows have arrived later than in previous years. So tonight we are expecting 14F (-10C) but tomorrow night a whopping 32F (0C) so we are not quite in the full grip of winter yet.

    • December 10, 2013 1:07 pm

      Thanks Joanna, it’s inched up to 31 today and it feels downright balmy compared to the last week. Hope your winter goes well 🙂

  4. susan permalink
    December 10, 2013 12:50 pm

    I felt like Art this morning – when I hit the first step and sheer ice. I don’t mind cold, but I DO mind arctic cold. Hope things warm up. I’ll be interested in hearing how your potatoes in the straw bales fare.

    • December 10, 2013 1:11 pm

      Susan, I agree, I felt his pain 😉 Crabby pants! If I wanted a long cold winter I would move!

      I’m looking forward to the potato experiment as well, if it gets as warm as they say next week, I’ll probably be moving the basement spuds back to the barn – feast or famine – too warm in the basement for long term, and hopefully not too cold in the barn for the rest of winter. I feel sorry for the vegetable farmer west of here, acres of cabbage, celeriac, kale and other assorted crops that usually go until at least January. That’s a lot of work down the drain. 😦

  5. Ben Hewitt permalink
    December 10, 2013 1:45 pm

    Wait a sec… are you suggesting that 5-degrees is cold?

    As my daddy used to say, “ain’t cold ‘less yer piss freezes fore it hits the ground.”

    Actually, he never said that. But I like to imagine he did.

    • December 10, 2013 2:18 pm

      It’s cold for here…we live in the banana belt you know 😉 Our annual precip is almost all liquid, all the time 😉

      My daddy used to say “it ain’t rainin’ until you’ve had an inch a day for 30 days”…just kidding – he used to say, “around here summer is 3 months long if you’re lucky and the rainy season is only 9 months long if you’re lucky.”

  6. December 10, 2013 2:38 pm

    We might have to try the tree limb trick! We generally just break up the ice 2-3 times a day using a pitchfork or shovel. It would be great to leave a stick out there so the cows can always keep things open.

    • December 10, 2013 3:26 pm

      It works pretty good, and I can do the rest with my splitting maul or maybe a hatchet. But the stick works well unless it’s deep cold and then you gotta problem Houston.

  7. Bee permalink
    December 10, 2013 4:02 pm

    Boy, Nita, I know what you mean! We finally had to resort to the big propane torch this morning because the pigs’ water troughs were frozen solid. I’d been getting by dumping a bucket of hot water in once or twice a day, but when the trough’s full of ice, the hot water runs off and leaves the solid ice behind. The pigs found it a little exciting when hubby got out the flamethrower and it made that great big Whoosh as it lit, but they were happy to get a drink when he got done. My cats won’t even go outside at the moment; eight inches of snow that melted just enough to ice over and the dadblasted north wind whistling up the canyon have made feeding time pretty miserable for us humans the last few days…

  8. Susan permalink
    December 10, 2013 4:17 pm

    LOL, the cow water trough thawed itself this afternoon before I got down there with the ax! There IS light at the end of this cold tunnel. I hope I can remember all this when February or March has me moaning and complaining about living in 2 seasons – summer and mud. 🙂

  9. thetinfoilhatsociety permalink
    December 10, 2013 5:24 pm

    I hear you — we usually don’t have a real cold snap until January or February and go through the bulk of our wood then. We had about a cord, some left over from last year and some from a windfall, that we’ve nearly completely burned through already!

    I may have to try the brick thing for overnight at least, we have been taking them a gallon of warm water from the sink every every morning because their water freezes overnight. And we haven’t had eggs in a month, they molted and then the cold snap hit, so no eggs.

    And that farmer’s pain, I feel it too! Most of my chard and spinach bit the dust with temps down as low as 14 F.

    What a very strange year it’s been already.

  10. fngrpntr permalink
    December 10, 2013 6:45 pm

    Do you have a post describing construction of your strawbale root cellar?

  11. December 10, 2013 9:44 pm

    Oh my, your cat pictures – too funny! We’re in a wretched cold snap, too. Just hanging in there until hell freezes over 😉
    -Jaime

  12. Bev permalink
    December 10, 2013 9:51 pm

    We had the snow. With the cold temps it is all ice. We always deal with some temps in the teens. This past week it has been below zero. Oh my! You really don’t want to do anything outside unless you have to. High has been about 24 degrees. We lost a historic building yesterday to fire. Not sure of the cause as yet. Everyone’s topic is about frozen pipes and driving on ice. All of a sudden we are burning way more wood and thankful to have it. It is ony December. Ha, is it spring yet?

  13. December 10, 2013 10:22 pm

    This is my first winter actually farming and boy, has it been a rough one! Water in the barn froze up…then my house pipes froze up! Luckily I have a stream to I hauled buckets from there to the pigs. Makes me respect folks who do this in the midwest all the more.
    good luck at your place! looks like things are warming up some.

  14. December 11, 2013 7:08 pm

    Last week was miserably cold in Fort Collins, and historically so: a six-day stretch of subfreezing temperatures was one of the longest cold snaps in the city in 125 years.
    It was 63 one day then the next night the low was -15, luckily it snowed before the cold really set in!

    • December 12, 2013 11:39 am

      Well I never! I used to live there for two years, between 2006-2008 and those were pretty snowy winters then.

  15. December 15, 2013 9:51 pm

    I absolutely love the photos of the cats!! Made me smile 🙂

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