Winter is a time of quiet waiting on the farm. The perennial plants are waiting patiently underground for the soil to warm. The animals in the barn wait for my visits twice a day to replenish their food and water. The chickens wait for the snow to melt so they can leave the cages and run around the garden. And I await those warming late-winter days when I will be very busy prepping the soil, cleaning stalls and coops, moving animals and planting. But for now, it is planning time for me. That is, unless a blizzard is in the forecast.
In that case, the chicken runs are fully covered by tarps attached by zip ties. Their food is filled right to the top and a flock block goes in the run. The heat lamps stays on in the coop. Generally, below 20F, I put on the heat lamp and mostly it is for the roosters’ combs and larger wattles.
I fill all my extra 5-gallon buckets in the barn because if we lose power we also lose running water. I close up the goat door so it is only halfway open (they need a means for escaping each other at times!) and the sheep door is fully closed.
Extra straw goes down in each stall to provide a warm, dry insulating buffer from the dirt floor. It’s not too much work once you are used to it but with snow already on the ground everything takes longer.
If it were not for the animals, there are many days in our New England winters that I wouldn’t be outside longer than it take to say ‘Earl Grey Tea’. But as it is, I spend one and a half hours outside everyday, rain or shine, snow or not. But during that time I notice those subtle changes, those glorious sunset moments, the migration of wildlife. Indeed, routine and regularity give you a deeper knowledge and understanding of whatever it is you pursue. . . . .even if it sometimes involves crampons and frostbite!