Tuesday, February 1, 2011

surviving winter

I've had a lot of questions, via email, phone, blog comments and in person, about how our animals are faring with all this wicked winter weather. I haven't had a lot of photos of the critters recently, because I just don't think to grab my camera when I go out to do chores, and chores just occupy so much of the day this time of year that I'm really not looking to just go hang out in the barnyard once I'm done with them. But I took advantage of yet another snow storm (because, you know, we were really needing a little more snow....) today, and the cancellation of our day's plans to go with it, to take a stroll around the barnyard with my camera this morning so I could show proof that my animals are still alive and thriving. (Above is "Coconot," one of the Angora Goats.)

Above, "Ishy," another goat waits patiently for fresh hay. The goats and sheep are basically living on top of the snow pack, about 2 1/2 feet above ground. They have shelters of course, that they have to climb down into and up out of, but for the most part they spend their time outdoors. A little snow (or a lot in this case) doesn't seem to bother them much. But there's really not much keeping them in their pens, other than the habit of being fed there. In fact, Music (the goat not pictured in these photos) was half in, half out of his pen for a bit today. Hopefully he won't decide that out is better than in.

April the Akbash Dog (above) is living full-time with the sheep, although she keeps her own private "snow cave" (below) for eating and sleeping. She's funny, she sits in the opening when I come down with her food in the morning, waiting for her meal to be served to her in the comfort of her own bed. If I had another hand, I'd love to get a picture of that.

If April were cold, she could always crawl into the sheep's "snow cave" (below) and snuggle with them. But I actually think she'd rather freeze. Her attitude seems to be that she doesn't have to love them in order to protect them. (Hm, reminds me of at least one of my previous jobs....)

For the most part, Annie (above) prefers to hang out inside her stall. Despite the fact that she can move more easily through this snow than we can, thanks to her long legs, she's not made any trails of her own, preferring to move along only The Map Man's and my trails. I guess she figures as long as there is room-service, why walk to the restaurant? I had to change Annie's feeding regime a bit this winter, as she wasn't holding her weight well. She's looking better fed now, but had definitely lost muscle tone due to lack of exercise, and is really looking her age (about 20 years). Horses weren't intended to live on the tundra.

Meanwhile, Butterscotch (above) prefers take-out food. Literally. I put that hay inside his stall, he took it back out to eat it while standing in the snow. Silly pony. Of course, he's got so much hair, he's probably more comfortable out in the elements anyway. That door behind his head is the door to the chicken coop where our 24 laying hens are tucked away in comfort and warmth, stuffing themselves with chicken food and laying vast quantities of tasty eggs.

The ducks all have their own snow caves, too. Above are the standard-sized ducks (mostly Magpies and Magpie/Runner crosses). Most of them are heading to Maine the end of February, assuming the weather cooperates, so they may as well get used to the cold! Below are my "miniature" ducks (Call Ducks). I had been worried about them and their small size with the cold weather, but they've been doing great and actually seem to enjoy the snow.

The turkeys (above) don't have much of an opinion either way, although we had to shovel a spot for them to stand after the last storm, because the snow pack was so close to their roof that they had to crouch.

Meanwhile, the rest of the dogs think playing in the snow is a lot of fun (above), but nobody really wants to be out in it for extended period of time. Well, except the Lab, who is protected by a layer of blubber and a water-proof coat -- but I don't let even her stay out for more than an hour at a time. She likes to dig out water buckets, make sure they are filled to the top with snow, and then carry them indoors to dump the snow all over the basement. Thanks, Kiri, very charming.

So, like us, the animals are all surviving the winter around here! So far. We'll see what this current storm brings when it finally wraps up on Thursday morning....

1 comment:

Stacey said...

I enjoyed reading and seeing this. Thanks for sharing! I know you're tired of *all* the snow, but to this Floridian, it looks so magically quiet and beautiful. Now barn chores in the snow- that doesn't sound so magical ;)