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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: Winter

Last week’s storm #1 of Winter 2013 was wet and got extremely windy, but by the time the temperature dropped below freezing the precipitation stopped. Better to be safe with extra weather-proofing!

The ponies were out early in the morning, even though the sleet had already started

The ponies were out early this morning, even though the sleet had already started

Hard to see start of the storm sleet building on the ground

The hard to see start of the storm sleet build-up on the ground

This week’s storm came in icy. It has been running below 32 degrees at night this week, so at least it did not start off warm & wet with that potentially fatal drop in temperature that quickly becomes wet & flash frozen.

Rocky - Still out in the weather

Rocky – Still out in the weather

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

He thinks I am funny for calling him in

Our Shetland pony “Rocky” is made for this type of weather, but I still tempted him into the shelter with snacks (“Bigs” had already given up on standing out in the ice storm).

They will do anything for treats

They will do anything for treats

In the morning, one of the ponies had apparently made their way through the iced surface to the water. The troughs and chicken drinkers sometimes have to have hot water poured on/in on days like this. If need be for your area of the country, you can get special water heaters to use during cold spells.

IcyWaterTroughW

Ice forming a shiny coating on items like branches and roofs always looks interesting. I took the rare opportunity to take a few quick pics before escaping back inside.

IceRoofW

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

Icicles in Southern, North Carolina

If the ice gets heavy on the electrical lines we could lose power. I do not mind losing TV or electronics, but our heating and well water runs off of it, so I hope it stays on.

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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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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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