Thursday, January 8, 2015

Baby It's Cold Outside...


We've been spoiled this winter with mild weather.  It's the second week of January, and this is the first bitter cold that we've experienced...and it brings back memories of last winter.  Thankfully, it's not to continue for too many days!

Our barn sits on a rise, and has absolutely no protection from the west winds. When the wind blows, it gets really cold on the side of the barn where the heifer pens are.  There's no good way to insulate the water lines over there, so we have to be proactive to keep them open.

Yesterday afternoon the temperatures began dropping and the wind picked up.  We drained water lines on the west side of the barn after evening milking, and headed into the warm house.  We could hear the wind blowing when we went to bed, and we hoped that we wouldn't find trouble this morning when we got up...

This was the temperature at 7:00 this morning...

My main job right now in the barn consists of keeping those water lines open and/or making water available to the heifers.  I run a hose from the main water line in the cow stable to a tub in the outside pen several times a day. There's a tub at the end of the entry way, on the other side of that gate, and the heifers learned quickly where it is...

Jolyn hangs out with me, and often sits on my shoulder while the hose is running...

If water bowls have frozen, I fill calf bottles with steaming hot water...

...and pour the hot water over the water bowl valves to open them up...

The cows' body heat keeps the actual cow stable pretty warm.  It was 60 degrees out there last night at bedtime!  The outside pen water line will probably remain drained for a while yet.  The box pen water lines will stay drained over night, and be opened each morning for a while.  Even the youngest heifers learn quickly that they need to drink when the bowls are open and running!

Meanwhile at the calf hutches...

The youngest calves are kept warm and dry with fresh bedding and they each wear their insulated coats.  I had to bribe this little one to stand still by letting her suck on my fingers.  That was a cold choice...and it's also why she looks a bit goofy.  (The hutch is also a lot bigger than it looks here...)

This was what remained in their water buckets from over night...

We're just thankful that even though it reached the single digits overnight with a windchill in the minus teens, the wind has remained calm today, and that makes all the difference!

Stay warm, wherever you are!  There are only 72 days 'til spring...but who's counting?!


  1. oh, not quite as cold as you, but 18 this morning was plenty cold for texas. our outside spigots are all covered and i don't have water lines in the barn. the horses can get water from the pond, too. :) stay warm up there!

  2. Hope that icy west wind brings our warm-ish weather your way soon. Frozen plumbing is NEVER fun.

  3. Guess what? The wind came down HERE!!!! We started at 4 and went to 32... and tonight back down below zero, and up to 15 only tomorrow. However... we are supposedly going back into the 40's and 50's in ten days or so!

  4. Oh I can so relate to frozen water pipes. With ours it's mostly the connections that freezes. I'm getting better at thawing the pipes when that happens. It's -23 °C or -9.4°F.

    We have brought the heifers from the colder shelter into the barn after making some different temporary arrangements in order to keep them warm and at the same time it keeps the barn warmer too so my pipes and water bowls don't freeze.

    Farming in cold climate isn't for sissies.

    Hang in there.

  5. I am counting those days! Glad everyone is staying warm!

  6. Alicia,
    Cold weather does make extra work.

    Yesterday at 8 am it was 27* and the temps steadily fell all day. It's -3* this morn. Yesterday was horrible windy. The weatherman said the town to our west had recorded gusts of 76 mph. I would much rather have cold and no wind than wind like yesterday.

    Be safe as you chore and try to stay warm.

  7. Water is something we totally take for granted until we don't have it. Good job keeping it running. Stay warm out there.


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