Second Sunday of Advent, and the church was full at 8 AM. Don't ever tell me that farmers aren't a hardy bunch! I marvel at the number of farm wives at least ten years older than myself who regularly wear jeans and sturdy shoes to church, ever practical, and their husbands in overalls and boots. I had on my jeans and a warm sweater, and thanked heaven for Keith, who got up and did the chores out in the freezing 18 degree air. (Susan at Rocking Seven Mile Ranch will laugh at the 18 degrees temps... as they have had 23 BELOW already wind chills... brrrrr) All I can say is, I am so BLESSED to live in KANSAS.
We are pouring out the water from the fortexes at night now, during chores. It is more practical, as we are already carrying water from the house. One of the hardest decisions I had to make this year was to give up my waterfowl until retirement. Last year's harsh winter was very hard on Keith and me, and we had to get up at 5:30 just to begin carrying buckets of warm water. Keith often stopped at home at midday to replenish water for the ducks and geese, who need to keep their bills clear and clean. Part of the problem is that they didn't just clean their bills of mud, etc. in the heated trough, the geese bathed in it as well!
We also would have to break ice in the fortexes each morning with a mallet, and I'm thankful not to have to do that now.
These fortexes are kept on the ground in the henyards, and the geese and ducks as well as the chickens used them. The geese and ducks would clean and preen... and make a mess with them. This really brought home the fact that we did not have an adequate setup to care for them correctly.
We made a fortress of straw bales under the little henhouse, both for the ducks to sleep in, and the chickens to hang out during the day. This was the third year we had done it, and it works very well. In the spring, we recycle the soiled straw into the garden beds.
We don't have "Fort Apache 2010" set up yet, but need to do it in the next few weeks, because of the infamous Christmas Eve Blizzard of 2009.
Back to why we are pouring out the fortexes.... since we do not have waterfowl that need to drink during the night, we can pour them out, and then simply refill them in the morning with warm water from the house. One bucket is all it usually takes. We are also emptying the waterers now, until we plug the heaters in... this also lets us simply fill them in the morning, when the chickens come down from the roosts and are ready to drink. We are going to have to get our heater bases plugged in this week, as we are expecting temps in the low teens now.
The llamas have a heated water trough. This also is easier to cope with, as last year we had to carry to that trough, and to another heated trough at the end of the yard used by Beau and Lilly.
Christmas Morning, 2009
It was below zero, and had started snowing at 1 AM. The driveway had drifted, and I could not get out to church for only the second time in my life.
The horses were on their way over to be fed. Instead of going in their makeshift stable, they had stood by the deck most of the night as the ice and snow came down. That's ice on the cars.
In a way it was nice to be isolated and home, where we were safe and warm, but we did not get to see any family at all for about four days.
So this year will be different... we are doing things "smarter", and hope that this coming year will be the one where we have a water line installed to the pasture with a four seasons pump and automatic waterer for the animals. It will sure save some aggravation on the back, shoulders and neck for two old people!