Winter is Coming

Finally.

I think one of the number one questions I get asked about the farm is where do all the animals go in the winter?

Um.  Nowhere.  Just like you.

However, you may have noticed that winter is different than summer.  Therefor, the care and keeping of livestock is different in those seasons.

For the goats, this mainly means: Hay.

During the spring/summer/early fall – the goats eat grass and leaves and weeds til their little bellies are full but in the dead of winter, none of that exists and they have to be fed hay.  Which is basically dried nutritious plant.  This is different than straw which is dried, stalks of plants and used for bedding because there isn’t any nutritional value in it. So I stock up on hay, which is the itchiest of farm chores unless you, like me, are perpetually covered in mosquito bites and poison ivy and then all chores between May and November are itchy.

I don’t really do anything for the rabbits.  They provide their own winter coat and I just make sure they have a cozy little den to sleep in.

I don’t really do anything for the chickens either.  They have shutters on their coop that get shut at night.  A lot of people have a problem with their chickens not laying eggs in the winter because they aren’t getting 14 hours of daylight.  Mine have never really stopped or slowed down so I don’t even think about artificial lighting in their coop.

The one “hard” thing about winter is the water freezing.  Most mornings, I need to make sure the ice is cleared out of their buckets and if it’s going to be below freezing all day, I just go out at lunch time too to make sure they still have access to water.

 

But because I also milk the goats, there’s a bit of a process to stop milking them.  The thing is, you can’t just stop and start back up again in a week.  Once you stop, you stop until they have another baby.  Let me explain.

I will not be milking the goats after October 20th.  This is because:

  1. I’d like to start going on vacation.
  2. They need a break to just lay around and get fat off hay all winter.
  3. They need a break to grow a baby.
  4. I don’t have a need for it year round.

Some people stop milking in December.  Some people never stop milking because they have different goats on different cycles.  Some people don’t milk their goats at all and this isn’t an issue.

Everyone says to stop milking you just….don’t milk them but I like to make it a little easier on those udders and gradually decrease their grain so that they are gradually producing a little less milk.

 

And that’s that.  That’s what happens in the winter.  Eating hay keeps the goats warm and they can sleep in the shed if they want but most of the time you’ll find them sleeping outside, even if it’s 30 degrees outside.  The chickens don’t particularly like snow so they’ll stay inside if there is snow on the ground and the rabbits seem to prefer winter far more than summer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just realized I’m wearing a raincoat in the house and I’d like to go hang it up.

The Coolest Thing

Hello.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Well that’s because my brain turned to mush and I couldn’t get the brain words in to mouth/keyboard words.  Anyway…

The other day I was wondering if I was cool or not…as one does…and I came to the conclusion that if you have to wonder if you’re cool – you’re definitely NOT cool.  Which led me try and do some things that would make me cool and they all made me even more uncool.

  1. I cut off a lot of my hair and was going for a “omg did she just ride up here on a wild stallion post saloon fight in the Wild West??”look.  What I got was “wow, that girl JUST got on ‘The Rachel’ hair trend of 1994.
  2.  I tried to hold a cigar in my mouth and talk at the same time (can you see we’re    going with a cowgirl=cool theme, here?) and it turns out I can’t do that or I gag. Now let me explain – I enjoy smoking cigars, but because I have an insane gag reflex, I can’t hold it in the side of my mouth and talk.  Unless the conversation is to make retching sounds.  Scott has this turkey call thing that’s about the size of a guitar pick that you stick in the roof of your mouth and I basically barfed it up when I tried it.  He is nice enough to keep talking to me.

Clearly, I can’t be cool.  Then it dawned on me….while I was washing my stupid Rachel hair…that the coolest thing about me is how my dog and cat are best friends.  People are always suggesting I start an Instagram page just for them and now I realize….what they’re really saying is “we hate all of your other stupid pictures, please please PLEASE only post pictures of those two”.

Well, friends, I’ve heard you.

I’ve heard you, but for the most part, I will ignore you.

But really, let’s talk about this dog cat duo of best friendship.

First, there’s Roosevelt.  Roosevelt is a 2.5 year old Australian Shepherd with a wonky eye.  He is my actual best friend and does all the exact same stuff that I do except that I have to go to work and he gets to nap all day.  He is insanely good with all of the animals on the farm and will even let turkeys stick their head in his mouth.  One time, he just sat nose to nose with an escaped baby bunny and waited until I got there to put it back with his mom.  He is just the best.  Company stresses him out, he hates when his routine is broken, and he overreacts to most things.  Three things I could also say about myself.  So one random day when Scott and I decided to get a cat, I figured it would be fine.

Insert: Trumann.  Trumann is a year old black cat.  Do cats have breeds?  Trumann is a cool cat though.  Not like all the other dumb cats out there.  Trumann goes outside and poops in mole holes and has a groundhog gang that he joins all day.  I guess.  I have no idea what that guy is up to, he just comes in when I get home and is really dirty and covered in spiders.  He also really enjoys head butting you at 3 am and every half hour after that until morning.  I’ve never had a cat before but I would say Trumann’s only flaw is that cats need litter boxes and now we have a litter box.  I should also point out that Trumann is the smallest animal on the farm and I neurotically worry about him a lot.  Even though he’s the only animal here that kills stuff.

I got Trumann as a teeny tiny kitten and the minute I walked in the door, I told Roosevelt he had a brother, dumped Trumann out of the box and they became best friends instantly.  So if you were hoping for advice on how to make your cat and dog best friends, I have no idea.  I just assume it will work perfectly every single time. 

Oh! And in case you don’t know and are wondering about their names.  Roosevelt is named Roosevelt because Scott had just watched a documentary and read a biography on Theodore Roosevelt and really wanted to name whatever dog we got, Roosevelt.  Then, we thought it would be cool to keep a presidential theme but I also have a theme of naming pets after places my extended family lives.  So there’s a Truman president and a Trumann, Arkansas where my mom’s family is from.  Win win.

There you have it.  The story of my two best mates.

Now.  Pictures.  Be prepared for your heart to explode.