Well it has finally happened. We have gotten our first patch of that wintry goodness known as snow. While we have had some in the air before this was the first that stuck to the ground. What a joy it was to wake up and find our five acres covered in a blanket of wintry white. The joy of the moment was immediately offset when I took my first step out into this winter wonderland and was hit by the 20 mph wind and the 24 (but feels like -10) degree weather. Why would any human subject himself to such a harsh treatment? To feed the animals of course. As with all things in life the farm doesn’t stop being a farm just because you are tired, or sick, or at work. No it goes on in its drumbeat low and steady. The first worry was whether or not our beloved hens had survived this clod snap. While we have been at these temperatures a couple of times this year it had never gotten this windy before and of course had never snowed with such vigor. Usually we are awoken every morning at 5 am by the sweet serenade of our rooster beckoning the sun to come up over the horizon. Well much to my surprise the only noise that arose me this morning was my alarm clock going off at 5:15 drawing me from my deep slumber under the warm sheets. The thought immediately raced thru my head about the chickens and the cattle having turned into blocks off ice like you would see in a bugs bunny cartoon.
So it was with this image instilled in my head that I trotted out to the chicken coop. usually as I am leaving for work at 6 the chickens have already ventured out form the coop and occupy the back yard looking for breakfast. As I glance around hoping the the snow had somehow came lodged them my sense of worry began to deepen. Then right as I turned to open the first hatch I heard the most joyous noise of clucking as the hens had surely been alerted to the presence of a stranger outside. I opened up the door and found all my ladies huddled up but looking rather chipper as if the too had longed to sleep in without the rooster stirring them from their slumber. I quickly fed the brood some corm mash and while that did peak the interest of a few to come down from their roost most remained tucked away from the elements. By this time all the commotion from the hens had drawn my cattle into the front pasture for a closer look.
The guys looked good as they had a thick layer of snow covering their fur but were showing little signs of not being well fed. I broke the ice in their trough and laid out a bale of hay for them to much on. We ended up sticking a deal with the neighbor for some good cheap hay that I am using as a supplement. After laying out the hay I opened up the next section of winter pasture for them to graze on. As usual they had a great time trouncing around in the fresh pasture and despite the snow cover they dove right in and began pushing snow out of the way to unearth the delicious forage below. While I had read that they would do this it was great to see that they actually would eat thru snow given the opportunity to graze good quality grass. It reinforced even further the idea that what we were trying to accomplish going the all natural sustainable route was already working!.
So animals are more resilient than we give them credit for. The have taken this snow in stride and seem no worse for the snow!.
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Grazing on stored forage.