The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Coping with Unscheduled Winter

November 16th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Posted in Weather


As if we didn’t have enough to do, an unseasonable blast of arctic weather has complicated matters here on the farm.

We still have 50 broiler chickens on pasture that we had planned to begin processing this week. But we can’t run our chicken plucker when temperatures fall below freezing. On Friday we woke up to an inch of snow, preventing us from moving the birds to fresh grass in their “tractors.” Chickens are terrified of snow, so if you try to move the cages, they just huddle at the wrong end to avoid the strange, frozen white stuff.

Nor can we move the livestock to fresh pasture. We can’t set up our temporary fencing if the ground is frozen. We resort to feeding from our store of hay, meaning the animals become all the more dependent on a steady supply of fresh water to drink. But the water freezes as well in the plastic troughs and buckets we use.

It all adds up to lots more work for us–bringing some poultry waterers into the house overnight, emptying others in the evening, refilling in the morning, breaking up ice in the troughs, lugging fresh buckets out to the fields.

Another wrinkle: we need to be re-organizing our herds for the breeding season, separating goats from sheep, getting the proper mix of boys and girls.

Things will probably get worse before they get better. The latest forecast calls for snow, sleet, freezing rain and ice Monday into Tuesday. We may find ourselves trapped on our hillside plot. And if there’s a power outage, we’ll be unable to draw water out of our well.

Looks like we’ll be very busy today.

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  • Paul Perrot

    Hi Ed. What about solar panels to power your well pump though I suppose for some assurance that this would work you’d also need a serious battery that, too, might not work at freezing temperatures unless buried if even this precaution would be sufficient. And how often might you need to service the battery if burying it has advantages. Solar panels are vulnerable to damage so you’d have to take precautions for that too. Good luck with your chickens. Sounds like a lot of work, but healthy work and the challenges seem more that worth it for your enthusiasm to meet them. Hope you and Lane are doing well otherwise.

  • Ed Bruske

    The usual solution around here is a backup generator. I’m not sure we really need one at this point. Otherwise we’re doing great, Paul. Hope all is well with you. Leila is doing extremely well in Latin, btw.