The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Animals weathering the deep freeze

Cold goat hay

Sometimes, I think that humans would be 100% happier if we were 25% dumber. I woke at 4:30 on Thursday morning, worried about what the deep freeze would do to our animals, but when the day finally dawned at a chilly 1 degree Fahrenheit, the animals were happy as can be. Lucy seems to become bouncier the colder it gets, the goats were waiting at the gate for their breakfast, and the ducks ran straight out the door and into the creek, where flowing water must have felt like a sauna at 31 degrees warmer than the air.

Tractored hens

I heated everyone's morning drinking water, but only the tractored hens seemed particularly interested. They were also the only ones who ran to the lunchtime waterer I brought out to refresh their now-frozen morning offering. I guess everyone else was too busy exploring the frozen world to want fresh water.

Goat eating sorghum

Head-butting goatOur goats seemed more interested in the sorghum seed head that I treated them too --- a rare bit of grain for a cold day. Perhaps I should have brought two heads, but Artemesia seems to hold her own nowadays. Our larger goat inevitably head-butts the smaller goat when they're supposed to be sharing, but Artemesia simply ignores the jab in the ribs and keeps eating away. In fact, this time around, Artemesia got the lion's share of the treat since Abigail was too busy fighting to chow down. Maybe there's a lesson there? The sweetest goat gets the grain?

Stay warm out there!

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Animals are really quite hardy. The problem comes when the temperature swings dramatically from day to day. That is when we are likely to enjoy an unseasonably warm day or two, but the animals are more likely to come down with pneumonia. They can add or subtract layers quite as quickly.
Comment by Charity Fri Jan 9 16:40:53 2015

Animals are tough and adaptable. Being from the 45th parallel in God's Country (Minnesota) growing up on a homestead there, we kept the chickens inside in the winter but they could venture out in the snowy pen if they wanted. The wooly sheep and cattle did fine as long as they had shelter from the wind, and ample hay and water.

The worst part I recall was hauling water. Our little barn had no water piped to it, as one had to bury pipes 4-6 feet deep which would have been thousands in backhoe work. In the summer we had a hose and pipe arrangement from an exterior spigot on the house about 100 yards away, but in winter the exterior faucets were drained.

I had to fill five gallon buckets with hot water in the basement shower stall and carry them up the stairs and out to the barn. Hot water so it would not freeze too fast as we often had days of sub zero temps.

I survived, and it makes for great stories as an adult! :)

Comment by Eric Sun Jan 11 09:06:17 2015

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.