Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Load of Straw Buys a Heap of Peace of Mind

At this writing its about 3* out there. It doesn't look like it will get much about 20* today and since we'll have this cold until next week we had to spring to action. We went and got a load of straw yesterday and today we'll go and get some more.

It's a snow day! The pond is starting to freeze.

Straw is one of those wonder tools in farming. You can use it for everything. You can build shelters, insulate existing buildings, use it for clean mulch, or use it to entertain your chickens who love to peck around in fresh straw. Mostly tho it's for bedding. When the bedding gets all pooped up from your critters you are halfway to garden gold - all you need to do is clean out your coops, put it in a big pile, and let it become well rotted manure. Then stand back and watch your garden grow like the dickens.

When I first got here I could never remember the difference between hay and straw. One of my pals told me that "Straw is to Step on...and Hay is for eating." Straw is the stem part of grain crops like wheat. When the wheat head is harvested the hollow stem stuff is baled up and sold separately. Sometimes it still has some grain heads in it - which is why the hennies love it.

Our Kai. Has zero hoots for snow.

Straw had great insulating properties which is why we ran right out and got a bunch of it. So far this winter it hasn't been that entirely cold so we weren't worried.....but when we saw the forecast we figured we should stock up. Around here we can find straw for $2.50 a bale from the guy down the road - or $4.00 or more at a roadside stand with a pay box. 

We immediately added a deep layer of straw to everyone's coops - especially the waterfowl so they would have somewhere dry to stand. Admittedly it will be wet again tomorrow but we'll just add a little more straw. We have so many bodies in the hen house that it stays comfortably warm but those meat chickens don't roost like normal hens - they got an extra deep layer also.

Our Snow Princess in her natural habitat - the frozen tundra. 

Debbie and Nibbles, who are now in the big coop in the turkey house (its really the free side of the turkey house - an 8' x8' space). Even tho they had spread all their wasted hay all over the floor, we strawed them in deep also. This way they can snuggle in to stay warm. Nibs had a bad day last week - so we are keeping a close eye on her. Dancing Dahlia is now with SnaggleHorn over in the goat house.

You may be wondering what happened to Peanut who was not ThunderNuts? Well, we sold that guy to a couple of nice folks who had big plans for him. We grabbed up the money out of their hands, yelled "no take backs", and drove away fast. We heard he met his just fate. More on that later. Maybe.

Zander, in for a warm up and some snacks.

So now we just need to stand around and while away these dog days of winter. There's not much doing...but the dogs love the snow and cold so at least they are happy. Kai and Zander are out mushing their way across the frozen tundra. They think this cold is the best thing that has ever happened to them. They don't need any straw at all to keep warm. Most of the time when I go check on them they are laying in the snow like its the best thing ever. Of course we limit their time outside and everyone gets a paw and nose check when they come in. Honestly, they don't have any hoots at all and don't know what all the complaining is about.

That's the word here folks, Happy Wednesday!  Do you have your critters all snuggled in for this big cold?


7 comments:

Akannie said...

Good NMorning, OFG, and happy 2013 !

I hear you on the straw...and the price has been zig-zagging the past couple of years, but we can still uisusally find 4 dollar bales from a farm up the road from us.

I have a dog, Caylee who is a snow dog too, and she will lay belly down in it, and rub her face in it and you can just see the sheer delight !!
The other 3 are big babies. lol

Framing Fowl said...

Cold here today too. Turkeys and chickens are snuggled in with an extra deep layer of leaves we bagged up last fall.

I love the size of Zander's "snack"! That's a meal for regular dogs ;-)

Traci Sumner said...

More shavings in the goat house later. Bad year around here for hay and straw, so pine shavings it is. Plus scooping up the hay that my darn goats spread everywhere to add to the bedding. I'm lucky that the neighbor likes me, because I'm paying half what he is charging other people for hay - and it is still spendy. But, he also delivers my big 800# square bale every three weeks right where I want it. Gotta love the good neighbors.

nancy said...

Yes, we added more pine shavings to the coop, and keep things battened down. It was 7 here yesterday morning I just wish the sun would come out!!!

David said...

Simple is good. And all that satll littler for the compost heap is pure gold!

Chai Chai said...

OFG kept hearing a strange humming noise coming from overhead, "What is that sound?"

In the heights of the Keep Nicholas kept cheering on the Posse as they worked at their spinning wheels. "If this works I'm going to be rich!"

Nicholas paced the room anxiously, wading through used straw that fell softly from the humming spinning wheels.....

DianeS said...

I haven't had to buy straw yet this winter. My farm is tiny. Micro. The size of a postage stamp. And the bale of what should have been hay that I bought two months ago was AWFUL. Just awful. Dry. Stemmy. Even the Frickin' Rabbit wouldn't eat it - and he eats everything.
So it's being used as straw. Hopefully that will use it all up honestly. It's keeping the hens' feet dry, the rabbits decently warm, my feet dry on the path, and the compost working. Yay nasty hay!

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