"Winter is Coming" is a catchphrase from one of my favorite HBO series: Game of Thrones. (Great show if you haven't seen it I highly recommend it). It is also what we are saying and doing to get ready for our cold weather. Even though it is 85 degrees during the day with blue skies and sunshine....The nights will freeze soon. Here is just a bit of what we are doing to prepare for the winter weather.
Goats and Llama - we are fattening them up for winter by allowing them to eat, eat, eat as much hay and alfalfa as possible. We want them to enter winter with a nice pad of fat - just like me!
Unfortunately, we will be putting our little sick doe Sarah down today as she is frail and won't make it through the winter. This is the most unpleasant and sad tasks of raising animals. I have said that as long as they are not in pain they can live out their lives but she is going to get cold and the other animals in the herd don't cut her any slack. They know when a member is weak, and won't even let her get to the hay or other food. We suspect a chronic case of CAE which she might have contracted from nursing off another doe that we no longer own. (CAE is passed down from animal to animal through mother's milk, and is only harmful to animals, not humans).
My son Derek will dig a grave, and then put her down humanely, with a gunshot to the back of the head. As much as he loves to shoot things, this will be extremely difficult and emotional for him. Animals aren't afraid of death and we as their guardians need to be able to dispatch them quickly and humanely if need be. We fed Sarah her last supper of strawberries, oranges, grain and leftover french toast and said our sad goodbyes.
A few days ago we cleaned out the barn and put in two tons of hay, replaced all bedding with new straw, and put the old into a compost bin. We filled up around 50 feed sacks full of already composted bedding to help insulate around the greenhouse, and for use in the beds in the spring. A stock tank heater goes into the water tank to keep it from freezing so the goats always have drinkable water.
The chicken coop gets new bedding, and a heater in the water for the chickens. A light bulb will be set up on a timer in the hen house to keep the hens laying eggs throughout the darker months of winter. Hens need 14 hours of light to produce eggs.
In the greenhouse, we mulch the plants that we intend to overwinter, and will put a heater in the water tank to keep the water above 45 degrees- that helps the goldfish in there as well as the overall temperature inside the greenhouse.
In our outdoor goldfish pond, we will put a stock tank heater to keep that water from freezing as well.
Our trailers are getting winterized and closed up until next summer.
Our water lines to the trailers, landscaped areas, and hose bids are all shut down for the winter. Our vehicles are getting winterized as well - antifreeze in all the vehicles including the tractor.
We also have a list of all the indoor projects that we need to do, like cleaning and organizing. But then again Game of Thrones might be on....