Country Living Series

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cold snap

It's been clear and bitterly cold the last couple of days.


This morning it dropped to -8F.


Brrr!


The rising sun made shafts of light through the woods...



...and shone gold on the silvery-blue snow.


I tried to photograph the frost on this little boy's whiskers, but he kept moving and my camera was sluggish with the cold and wouldn't focus.


It's important to feed cows abundantly during extreme cold. Digestion is a significant factor in keeping ruminants warm.


On such clear, cold days, the livestock bask sideways to the sun, absorbing what heat they can. This is actually surprisingly effective.


Needless to say, the chicken waterers were frozen solid. I took them in the house, ran them under hot water until they were de-iced, and filled them with lukewarm water. We'll repeat this at least twice more during the day.


We recently got one heated chicken waterer. Just one. Why one? Because the rest were sold out.

The chickens do surprisingly well in these temps (there's no heat in their coop). We keep hay on the floor of their coop to keep their tootsies warm. Tough little birdies.


There were four eggs in the coop, frozen solid.


Frozen eggs burst their shells, sometimes with weird freaky results.


I give you the irony of a dog with four-inch fur who loves nothing more than to park herself by the cookstove.


The one advantage of such clear, cold days is sunset can be pretty...


...and dusk can be glorious.


If we just hang in there, we're supposed to get above freezing by Sunday. Go figure.

30 comments:

  1. Can you still eat frozen eggs or does it do something to them?

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    Replies
    1. Once they defrost, they're fine. We'll probably give these to the dog, though.

      - Patrice

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  2. -26 this morning in central Wyoming. It's warmed up to zero, at noon 😃
    Your pictures are awesome!

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  3. So...can you do anything useful with frozen eggs besides toss them in the compost heap?

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    Replies
    1. We'll probably give these to the dog, but they'd be fine to eat once they're defrosted.

      - Patrice

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    2. The frozen egg I got today was also cracked.

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  4. Going through the same thing here, I do have a one gallon blue electric water bowl, that I fill 2 times a day, because I have not finished their hen house, I do not have enough roosting boards to go around, so a lot of them stand on top of their nesting boxes that are now loaded with poop that appears to be cemented on. I have locked them up, and that way they seem to stay warm and the coop is a little warmer than the outside world. We will let them out on Sat when we get that heat wave of around 30* and hope that we can clean the coop up. We also give the hens a large bowl of extra goodies to fill up on and scratch. This has really been a cold one, even we don't want to go out.

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  5. We had -6.
    No hot water in the kitchen and no flushing toilet.
    Hope it thaws out soon.
    andy

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    Replies
    1. Bummer - I hope it thaws before any pipes burst, sir. Natodakn

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    2. Still no hot water in the kitchen and now toilet slowly fills.
      Progress!
      I pray the pipes don't burst.
      Temps warming up today.
      Here is to not carrying hot water from the tub to the kitchen to do dishes.
      andy

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  6. Frigid here too in Central Illinois. Lots of time like you, keeping animals warm, fed, and watered but man doesn't feel great to be back inside? Our rocket mass stove keeps things toasty and after chores we feel like we've earned the right to tea and a good read. Love your photos. I always do.

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  7. Up to our backsides in record snowfall. Using tractor to blow snow to feed critters in an area with a little wind shelter. Dark horses stand sideways to the sun too and it does help! Mailman has been making it once to 4 times a week for the past month - depending on wind and snow. (We may have no new snow, but this 4-5 foot drifts on each side of the road one inch will settle in and stop a 4x4 pick up by high centering it.) The road grader has been stuck more than once! New hen house is small under 4' x 8', but has R-13 walls, floor and roof. With a single 40 watt light bulb and heated waterer I have yet to see it below 15F when it is -20F outside. Enough light so my 9 hens are still laying about 4-6 eggs per day! :-) Natodakn

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  8. We are wearing hats in the house to try to keep warm!

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  9. Colder tonight than last night. No wind so that should help.
    Snow starting Saturday night, thru Monday. Actually showing snow all next week as your forecast shows. Looks like you have your work cutout for you taking care of all the animals.
    Take care out there walking around feeding. Have two friends injured this week when they fell while feeding livestock.
    Keep us tuned into what's going on at your ranch.
    Good luck.

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  10. Smart Lydia. If I was there I would join her.

    Huggs..

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  11. Tonight driving home from dinner it was minus 14 degrees here in southern Idaho. At least we had some sun today. Days getting longer and closer to spring. Yay! Good news for a sun addict.

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    1. My daughter lives in S ID. It was -17 this morning and the wind was blowing which made the temp -35. Too cold. She got up at 2am to check the chickens. They were warm and cozy.
      andy

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    2. I can't wait for spring!

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  12. At 9 am this morning, it was -30*. We are in southern Oregon and received 26 inches of snow in the last storm, which is now frozen of course. The next snow storm is supposed to hit tonight. Unusual weather in the 8.5 years that we have lived here.

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  13. We've given up trying to thaw out frozen chicken waterers. Come winter we store them away and switch to simple black, rubber feed pans. They freeze up but are easy to knock the ice out and refill twice a day. Sometimes they don't even freeze inside the chicken coop. I just got tired of hauling chicken waterers in and out of the house all winter.

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    Replies
    1. I have used those pans too. You just can't destroy them. When we have super cold days, I use heated waterers.

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  14. You make our 8 degrees above zero sound like a heatwave. I had a frozen and cracked egg today too. However, all of my chickens have heated waterers in their coops. The biggest chore in the winter is keeping water to all of the animals. Stay warm.

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  15. Post Alley CrackpotJanuary 7, 2017 at 1:03 AM

    So happy your thermometer shows degrees Celsius, BTW. :-)

    The engineer in me wondered if there were a cheap solution to the chicken waterer problem, first thinking that a flipped Peltier cooler would work great as an efficient Peltier heater.

    Then I realised I was really overthinking this a bit, and I found a simpler solution. :-)

    You could probably get this to work with a low-voltage incandescent light bulb as a heat source -- although they're being phased out at mains voltage rating, they're still available in 12V DC rating.

    And so you can still get this "torpedo-base" 40W/12V incandescent bulb for cheap:

    http://www.lampsplus.com/products/medium-base-40-watt-clear-torpedo-light-bulb__67418.html

    Which can then be used with this design from The Chicken Chick:

    http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2011/11/make-cookie-tin-waterer-heater-under-10.html

    You'd simply substitute the appropriate 12V wiring and mains AC to 12V DC converter to make this work.

    Since this is an outdoor bulb, it would most likely be much safer than using a mercury-laden compact fluorescent, and it might be less risky to have 12V DC wiring in the vicinity of chickens anyway.

    Of course, if you want to use two bulbs, you would want to wire them in parallel instead of in series in order to use each bulb at its full wattage rating.

    25W bulbs will probably be easier to find in the future, so having two or three sockets for those might work best.

    It's a project to try at least. :-)

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  16. Dumb but serious egg question: if you can still safely eat the frozen eggs, why is it so impossible to freeze eggs to preserve them? You know how there's powdered eggs, but no frozen ones, and all I've ever heard is how you can't freeze eggs. Someone please explain!

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    1. You CAN freeze eggs, but not in the shell. The best way to freeze them is to beat the eggs until blended, them pour them into ice cube trays and freeze. Don't defrost them in the microwave (that will cook them); just let them defrost at room temperature. Depending on the size of your ice cube trays, one or two egg "cubes" should equal one egg.

      - Patrice

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    2. Oh, I never thought of ice-cube trays to make egg cubes. Thanks for the information!

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  17. Well, it was a balmy 21 in Central Texas this morning. Our chicken waterers were frozen as well and the girls were highly confused. Very unusual for us.

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  18. Bitter cold temps here, too, in the western Maine foothills and lakes regions

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