If you don't live in the Plains/Mid-West/East Side you might be wondering what all the crying is about - it's cold in the winter, right? Yep. But this is something else. Also this has been a prolonged period of sustained cold. Normally we'd have a few extremely cold days, complain about it, then get back to "cold but tolerable." This.. this is something different. This gal does a good job of telling you what we are headed for. Tuesday and Wednesday are gonna be one cold mutha.
The branch manager.
For our friends in the South please get your storm preps done, read up on how to keep your pipes from freezing, put shoes/boots, warm socks, and a jacket in your car for your drive to work (you know who you are), and stock up on feed and straw. We midwesterners may be rolling our eyes at your "cold" temps but really - we are worried about you and your flocks
So what do you do when we are headed for -11* actual and -35* wind chills?
The best you can.
At this point you might need to brace yourself for some losses - and extremely dangerous working conditions. This weather is no joke. If it normally takes you 45 minutes to do chores but you could get frostbite in 15 minutes.. well. You need to get your ducks in a row. This chart shows how winds and temperature combine for those "feels like" temps and also how fast frostbite can occur. So get ready now to deal with this cold.
How are you supposed to work in those conditions? Carefully, my friend, very carefully. Bundle up, layer up, and keep covered up. If this cold weather is new to you and you don't have a good winter jacket leave right now, go to Old Navy, and buy one of their oversized puffy coats on sale for like $15. Seriously. We buy them by the gross and never think twice about them getting ruined.
Then have a clear strategy for doing your chores. Don't leave it to "We'll just hurry." Nope. Have it planned out in your mind for the least amount of walking around and the least amount of exposure. Don't walk over to the hen house empty handed to get their water buckets. Take all the feed over and bring the buckets back. Carry a shake of hay in one hand and a scoop of feed in the other. If it normally takes 4 trips back and forth then get organized so you can do it in two.
Having extra buckets ready makes everything easy. If you can't break the ice out of the buckets, bring them inside and turn them upside down in the bathtub to thaw out.
Our main "base" is our garage/barn. The faucet is right by the door. So we have empty, or thawed out, buckets ready to go. We each have specific tasks so there is no over lap or "Oh I thought you were getting the goose buckets?" Then we regroup in our garage, warm up, and plan or next attack. For Tuesday/Wed I think I might have chores alone - which means I'll have to break up the tasks into two different groups - one for the Turkey House Side and one for the Chicken House side - with a warm up break for me inside.
Next, get all your critters warmly bedded down. Make sure everyone is double stacked and out of the wind. Normally our turkeys are in the turkey house. Not now... the turkeys are bunking with the chickens. It's nothing but tailfeathers to elbows in there. They are stacked in tight. This is good because all those bodies create heat and all that snuggling keeps everyone warm. It is the truth that the hen house is probably the warmest spot and we have no heat lamps out there.
If you can, wait until the sun comes up to do morning chores.... and start evening chores well before sundown. This way everyone is closed up, settled, and as warm as possible until you get the doors open...and in the afternoon they have time to get their houses warmed up before the real cold take hold..
Snow face derp.
For these next cold days the entire barnyard will be cooped up - including the barncats. This will result in some angry scowls but that's OK. Somehow everyone will get along - even the most bitter enemies know that something is wrong and they will all simmer down.
Of course as soon as this weather breaks will get the doors open and shove everyone outside. We ran the goats over to the goat yard today. It was pretty funny watching them mush thru the snow. Mostly they will just stay inside the goat house but having too close of quarters for too long isn't a great solution.
What about little critters? Thankfully we don't have any goats kidding this early in the season. But if you do then check out my friend Vicki's post about goats in coats and how to put together a kid warming station.
My other resources for this kind of Insanity Cold are:
* This post on extreme cold weather livestock care
* Defeating the Four Horsemen of the Snowpocalypse
* Cold weather goat shufflin'
* My Storm Prep list
* The National Weather Service site - put in your zip code for current conditions, watches, and warnings.
Be sure you've done your storm preps for the house also. The last time we had the extra cold temps one of my pal's was out of power as a result of something not weather related. Normally it would just be annoying but busted pipes and whatnot are not funny at all. Got your alternative heat source ready to go? Did you have a baking day? Do you have the laundry done? Water? Supplies? Trucks gassed up?
We can do this, right folks? This next winter blast? All together now - we can do this!
Happy Sunday everyone! It's time for another piece of pie and some snuggling with Nicholas.