Winter White
January 15, 2018, 6:54 pm
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January 15, 2018

Today, the calves were having a ball, running all over the feedlot. The snow covered lot actually looks great. I scraped everything clean thanks to last week’s warm-up. The slush and manure was like cleaning up applesauce, but I did manage to get it all cleaned up. That was one job I was very happy to complete.

The manure collected will compost along with the daily horse droppings and bedding. It takes a while because the cold weather slows down the rotting process. I’m fine with it because the reward of the compost is worth the wait. I also like the look of the feedlot clean and currently covered in a blanket of white!

The cows are not paying much attention to this cold winter weather. They are fed, bedded and content to just chew their cud and wait for spring. Perhaps there is wisdom in what the cows do. The young ones run and play. The rest of the herd simply takes it all in stride. There is much to be said for a full belly and a warm bed. Watching the snow pile up is just a bonus I guess.


Bedded and Shedded
November 19, 2016, 9:11 pm
Filed under: November 2016 | Tags: , , , , , , ,


November 19, 2016

After a cold rainy day, the snow is starting to swirl on the wind. The icy pellets stung my cheeks as I did chores tonight. It was nice to be in the warm barns feeding and caring for the animals. The pigs were all nestling down into their straw beds as I shut the doors and turned out the lights. The horses quietly munched on their hay as they stood knee deep in fresh bedding.

The cats were licking their paws and our dog laid in the hay watching me as I finished chores. I swept the aisle and hung up the broom. I sat down next to the dog and petted him on the head. I sat in silence, reflecting upon the last several days.

All of our farm equipment has been cleaned, lubricated and put away. Even the equipment that we will be using in the coming months has been given a space indoors for winter. I managed to store my horse drawn farm tools all together in my shop close to the horse barn. I can easily get out the pieces that I want to use and put them away when done.

The cows and sheep have been moved to their winter pastures. The horses have now started their rotation where they are inside at night and outside during the day. These cold nasty nights, when the winds and snows buffet the buildings , it is very peaceful to watch the animals enjoy the warmth of stall and stable. I listen to them chew, pet the dog and take comfort in knowing they are all bedded and shedded.

3 Sided Cow Shed
The cattle abode

The cattle abode

February 26, 2015

Our winter just wants to hang on with temperatures dipping below zero degrees F for days. Keeping the animals warm and dry can be a challenge. I use this open shed for my cattle. They choose when they want to go inside. The door faces south with a half wall on the east. The north and west sides are closed.

The cattle often spend the cold, crisp nights outside laying on the ground chewing their cud. The cold wet snow sometimes drives them inside, but even then, they stay outside a big part of the day and night. A good indicator that they are warm, is when snow lies on their backs. It sounds crazy, but their hair will insulate them enough that the snow doesn’t bother them.

It is a very different story when their hair gets wet. They lose their insulation power. They cannot get warm without getting dry first. They will hump up and shiver trying almost anything to stay warm. A simple 3 sided shed with a good roof is very serviceable for this purpose. Usually a windbreak is plenty for cattle. A row of bales, a board fence, a stand of pines or even the side of a building will work, but when they get wet they will really enjoy the protection of a roof, especially in winter.

My goal is to have a 3 sided shed in every paddock. The sheds also provide shade from the hot sun in summer. They make a great spot for protection from a spring hail storm or hard rain, not to mention the wet sleet days of late autumn. I also use them to store equipment in vacant paddocks over winter or perhaps the stick the grain drill as I rush from the fields to beat a rain storm.

These affordable sheds have many uses. I build mine from pine lumber sawed from trees on the farm. I use treated wood against the ground and for the poles that are the sheds foundation. I use “seconds” sheet steel for my roof material. The steel is half price, without holes and always white… on one side 😮

As winter slogs on, refusing to ease its grip, I stay warm shoveling manure from animal pens or wrapped in a homemade quilt. The animals stay warm in the barn or in sheds like the one pictured. I know all is well when the animals are standing outside soaking up the sun or even laying in the snow. If they are inside looking out or bedded down there, it usually means bad weather looms….or its already here…. and to think the uninformed call them…dumb animals!