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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: shelter

Winter storm "Iago" January 2013

Winter storm “Iago” January 2013

For the most part, we have pretty mild Winters here on our Southern farmette. But, although nothing like where I used live in the North East USA, some Winter storms can be especially bad in the Charlotte region of North Carolina.

extra "just in case' shelter

Spare “just in case’ shelter

What I have noticed about this area, is that the temperature will drop in unison with lack of precipitation. And the weather will warm up when it is wet out. So you go along, not really worrying about your animals since you yourself are comfortable out in the weather. Then, out of the blue, a weird Winter storm materializes.

Front yard coops

Front yard poultry coops with weather guards

A few years back I was driving along the road. The day had started out warm and rainy. It had gotten chillier as the day progressed. That seemed odd to me. This never happened up North.

Sleet started coming down. I continued home along our windy, country road. There was a little dog in the middle of the road. I stopped and picked up the tiny canine. It was a mini Beagle covered with dirt and scrapes but friendly/happy.

Later in the day I was grateful that I had brought the stray home. It had gotten colder.

Well shed aka goat shelter

Well shed aka goat shelter with entrance tarp in place

The two goats I had in a pen on the far side of the house had two dog houses to go in. There had been a shelter on stilts too, but the male billy goat (Billy Bob) had enthusiastically broken it apart with his horns. I was pretty new to goats and chickens at the time and rested easily since everybody outside had shelter, water and food.

That was a mistake. We had a slush storm. It reminded me of icy Summer refreshments, except that the sweet drink was, instead, falling from the sky. The goats had been out getting wet before going into the shelter for the night. The temperature dropped more.

Front pasture pony run-in

Front pasture pony run-in, also with extra tarps in place

I ventured out early in the morning. The young goat (Luna) that was out back in the fenced area was fine. That side of the house is uphill and drier. But in the side yard pen, the boy goat was shivering and the female nanny goat (Stella) was dead.

When I read other farm blogs, books, etc. this type of loss is, unluckily, common. Livestock often becomes Deadstock in a vast variety of ways – storms, predators, drowning, accidents and so on. But, I will always feel incredibly horrible about Stella.

More chicken coops

More chicken coops

So, when the weather reports start predicting COLD and WET weather at the same time – BEWARE! And get to work. I was outside all morning. I drove to the farm store and bought more tarps for extra protection on the little goat and pony barns. Fresh square bales of hay have enticed them all into their shelters.

And for the poultry – nylon feed bags work great when cut flat and stapled to the chicken coops. Extra tin was added to the goose/duck pen. We are all set now, but I will be checking on everyone every few hours. And it is likely be a restless night.

Free range rooster will be caught and garaged shortly

Wet, free range roo

This big guy will be caught and penned in the garage shortly, unless roocicle sounds good to you!

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It is almost one year since my major surgery. We have been able to get a lot done to reorganize the farmette since then. The work has helped me to build up muscles (including the ones supporting my fused neck) and to retrain all the crushed nerves. Things in that medical arena are far from perfect, but my ability to move is vastly improved in comparison to the two years prior.

We built a new pony run-in just in the nick of time before the cold Winter weather really struck:

Old Run-in

New Construction


New Run-in


Decor added September 2012

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To bring the livestock count up to date:

Dogs (Pets, Watch, Retrieving, Service, Herding)
1 Female AKC Golden Retriever, 2 Female ACHC Gollies
(Golden Retriever x Rough Coated Collie)
Ongoing but not currently: One Black DOG project
pulling a pound dog from local shelter to re-home.

Goats (Brush clearing, Lawn mowing,
Milk – hopefully this Spring, Kid sales)
1 ADGA Young Nubian Buck, 1 ADGA Nubian Nanny,
1 Pygmy Nanny, 1 Pygmy Doe, 1 Pygmy “It” (female-ish)

Ponies (Transport pull cart/ride, Pasture ornaments)
1 (14 Hands) Blind, Quarter Pony Stallion /
1 (10 Hands) Grumpy 21 yo Shetland Gelding

Poultry (Eggs!!!, Insect control, Chick sales)
1 Chinese, Female Goose /
1 Shy, Free Range, Ameraucana/Wyandotte, Standard Sized Roo /
1 Angry, B&W, Polish, Top Hat, Bantam Roo / 1 Blue, Sizzle, Bantam Roo /
2  (Red, Birchen) Cochin, Bantam Roos / 1 Mille Fleur, Cochin, Bantam Hen /
1 Pair B&W, Ugly, Project Bantams / 1 Silkie x Cochin, Bantam Hen.
17 Young, Bantam Chickens for grow out (new breeders needed,
heat wave drove raccoons out of woods for giant raid on our main coop).

Inside
1 Parakeet that throws seed as far as outer space.
No particular use. But, he is very cute.
1 (55 gallon) fish tank w about a dozen fish.
Calming living room centerpiece.

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New coops are being built or re-built. The truly scrappy ones made from reclaimed everything were burned along with their hornets/wasps nests. Making solid, super sheltered, predator-proofed pens for our poultry was long past due.

One of the new coops:
1) Frame, 2) Digital Plans, 3) Final in use


We barter/traded our one man auger for a working nuc box of bees
(we lost our queen last year in our top bar hive and inevitably
lost that colony).


– The back pasture needs fencing, but has been cleared of coops.
– We need to move the two fruit trees to the front and plant the third
(still in pot from purchase months back).
– The farmette needs to buy a few pure bred hens for laying and
Spring chick sales.
– More coops will be necessary. Bobwhite quail, diamond doves and/or call ducks may be in the mix soon.
– A tree-house style goat house or two (with easy cleaning bases) need to be built, so that we can leave the well shed for storage alone.
– The pony run-in will have additions as time goes on.

The projects never end. Thank goodness we enjoy them!

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This blog has been neglected for a few months. I am now getting back in the saddle again. I thought I might have to give up on the Farmette as pain took hold of my life here. But, after many types of treatments, medications, therapies and a lot of different doctor’s offices, I found a Neurosurgeon that was willing to help repair my damaged neck.

Our Chiropractor, Dr Robert Floyd, had helped as much as possible and the most of anyone in my 2+ years of constant pain. But, in my case, alternative medicine could only do so much. The problem was not one that would ever heal.

My Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gudeman, is not known for his bedside manners, but for being very good at his job. I myself found him pleasant, interesting and happy to answer all of my very particular questions. He was the only doctor in this specialty (that I had met) that had respect for Chiropractic work and other alternative approaches to health care – not reacting to them as a threat. When I found that he also wore Birkenstocks in his free time, I knew I had the right guy. Someone with a sharp mind with an earthy twist was the one to trust to replace a badly worn disc (only 5% left) and fuse two vertebrae together (C5 & C6).

I am still recovering and sometimes have some bad days, but the brunt of the healing is done, just in time for pre-Winter preparations here. We are trying to quickly finish a new equine run-in barn before the really bad weather hits.

Framework for new run-in barn

We will be re-using the siding wood from the old run-in. The original was built in a hurry and has a structural design flaw that is making it slowly bend in half. The new framing is staged next to the garage. We have one more wall and another door skeleton to build. Then we will move the new structure out to the pasture and transfer the covering from the old structure. There will be new roofing material and paint comparable to our top bar bee hive which has a fairly clean (but not manicured) appearance.

Old run-in - in the distance

Since we have a 10 hand high Shetland pony and a 14 hand high large quarter pony/small horse (his proportions are that of a horse), we don’t need to think big on the first stage of this project. It is 8′ x 8′ x 8′ with about 1.5′ extra to the peak of the roof.

Our two equine - Bigs & Rocky

The back wall will be solid and the front wall will be covered to 4′ or 5′ high so that, from the front of our house, we can see the horses inside. Both sides will have a 2/3  door and a 1/3 wall. When snow and ice storms come in, we can close it up. We will also be adding 3 flip up doors on the front wall that will act as shade canopies when open and weather shields when closed.

Run-in Diagram/Sketch

This is the first of, hopefully, many modules that will make up the horse barn area. It will not be too hard to add on to this starter piece. We will eventually have a place for hay and tack/equipment storage, a covered grooming station with cross-tie posts and some individual stalls.

Our lovely & beautiful blind quarter pony - "The Big Man Dakota"

Even though our quarter stallion is blind, he is claustrophobic and knows when he is closed up. On his trip here, I thought he would kick his way out of the trailer. This is the main reason that we will have several different ways to enter and close up the new shelter in the event of nasty weather.

Big Man is very calm in comparison to his arrival here at the Farmette, but we still need to introduce him to some things slowly. We’ll leave the doors open until necessity forces us to keep the freezing precipitation out. Hopefully, by then, he will understand the boundaries of this barn and adjust to the closed space without panic setting in.

Both the Shetland pony (Rocky) and “Bigs” have nice winter coats. Rocky is made for the seasonal changes being that his fur is short & shiny in the Summer and long & thick in the Winter.

Rocky - Head Shot

Big Man has a good coat too, but as much as he likes to stay out pastured day and night, I still worry about him getting cold. North Carolina Winters have days that start off warm and wet before turning to cold and icy. This is the crucial time to keep equine in blankets or in their shelter. Other than this time of year, leaving a barn open and available is a good way to keep your horses happy.

Happy Trails

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Goats are fairly easy to care for. They need a sturdy, dry shelter and constant access to water. If in a fenced area with limited foliage, just drop in a bale of hay and give them stock feed twice a day. Those are all of the necessities.

Our Little Goat Herd

You can do more for them if you’d like to. Goats like to play, especially the kids. They love to climb and jump. Right now they use the arm chairs on the deck and our outdoor dog’s house for fun. I have been keeping my eye out for some toddler play ground equipment to salvage.

Olivia, Billy the Kid, Luna (up close) and Abigail

We decided to sell our Breeding Billy. “Billy Bob” was getting too hard for me to handle. Between my neck injury and being female, my upper body strength was no match for him. Even though he only weighed in at 50 pounds, he could pull himself out of my grip. I began to tire of the little bruises from his horn poking antics.

We are keeping the Billy Kid. He is actually no longer a Billy. “Billy the Kid” is now a Wether. This means that he is a neutered male. This was done by banding. There is a little contraption you can purchase at the farm supply store. It is shaped a lot like pliers. If you are male, you may want to stop reading here.

You put special rubber bands in it and tie off the testicles. You can also use them to tie off wattles. The blood supply is cut off. After about two weeks, they simply fall off.

I wonder why this technique is not used on dogs. It is easy to do and inexpensive. The kid was playing as usual within an hour. I’m sure that complications can arise. All procedures of this nature have their risks. You must choose one that you are comfortable with.

The great thing about this is that he will remain calm and easy to handle. Without testosterone flowing through his body, there should be no aggression. The boys make better brush clearing machines, so he will have a job. And our son just loves his sweet personality, so he will be a pet too.

We have a mini Billy reserved for the Fall. The herd sire of his family is about 25 pounds and has small horns. He is also not territorial. Hopefully these traits will be passed on. If not, we’ll sell him off after breeding season.

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