Friday, February 3, 2023

Extreme Cold Prep

 Frigid. Arctic. Extreme cold.  Whatever you want to call it, the weather is finally doing what it's supposed to be doing, which is to say, getting cold. Perhaps a bit colder than we'd all like and maybe for not quite as long as the traditional "two-week cold snap" we often encounter in January or February but at least this winter we're going to get temperatures cold enough to hopefully give some of those summertime pests a dent. Last year's mosquitos seemed more numerous and voracious than I ever remember (do I say that every year?) and I attributed it to the too-mild winter. So I'm hoping that when I'm walking out to water the bull on Saturday morning in -50 degree, 100km/hr winds, I'll remember those August nights of mosquito swarms while I shut in the hens. 

The curls on Beowulf, the Belted Bull. Doesn't he have the best head?

I know the Galloway cattle are better prepared than most for cold temperatures. Their ears are covered in long, shaggy hair and they've got curls for days all over their heads.  Their thick coat is lush, they're pretty fat and they've got pretty stellar instincts.  Combined with the barn I shouldn't think twice, but of course I worry and wonder if there's more I should do. One of the girls seems to have shed some of her ear hair and I know when I'm laying in bed on Saturday night I'll be wondering about her ears. Oh #13, I hope you snuggle up close with #16 who seems blessed with especially long hair. 

We've had to designate one cattle barn as beef and the other as dairy, which is hilarious, given that only one inhabitant produces milk but "the cow barn" was leading to far too much miscommunication in a relationship that already has its fair share of communication mishaps.

Anyway, the dairy barn is housing the beef heifers while they are weaned, along with Petunia, and their door is to the west so we're planning to shut it once things start to really cool off but the heifers have never really been in a barn, and are still a little worked up about the weaning so I hope they appreciate the warmth more than they're stressed about being shut in. 

The other animals of concern are the hens, who will hopefully avoid any frostbitten combs. We put plastic over their windows and made alternative watering arrangements for when it inevitably freezes up. I'll give them some cracked corn the next couple evenings to warm them up from the inside out while they sleep and try to gather the eggs every hour or so in the mornings. 

Other than that, I'll be curious to see if Hagrid, the maremma opts to head to the barn at night. He so loves the cold and snow that it's so rare to see him choose the indoors, but Lennox, the Australian shepherd has been sleeping in the barn at night for a few weeks now. 

As for me, I'm off to NB to pick up our bacon and hams and sausage from our favourite butcher and tuck in with my parents in what we jokingly are calling the hottest place on earth, which is my Mom's kitchen with her sweltering wood stove working overtime at all times. Mark is going to hold down the fort, on pipe duty and Lucy is going to be on egg gathering and animal watering. 

In unrelated news, I have been having a horrible week on the board game/card game front. I have lost miserably and I don't just mean not first. I mean, I've been bringing up the rear in the score of a 5 person game! I am not accustomed to this, nor comfortable with it.  Last night after losing badly in Carcasonne, I insisted on Five Crowns, which I promptly lost as well by 200 points. I was tempted to insist on one more game of something in an attempt at redemption, but opted instead to go to bed, knowing if I lost another one I'd hardly be able to sleep.  Ugh. Tonight is hockey, so let's hope my losing streak doesn't translate to the ice!

I'm trying to think about what my future self might want to read and I think they will feel like I'm already stretching it with board game stats, so I'll sign off for now. 

May this find you putting up your thermal curtains and digging out your heaviest quilts and looking forward to the hunkering down.


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