It has been an incredibly cold night for Southern Oregon, even by mountain standards. The thermometer is reading 0 degrees F, coldest I can remember in our almost 10 years on the Greensprings and certainly unusual for early December.
Rube, the wood boiler, is going through wood PDQ compared to his usual fill times, but the house is warm and toasty. I can't say that for the barn, even my kitties only made a half hearted effort to come and greet me at the start of my rounds. They got extra food and they have a nice little kip in amongst the hay bales. I put my ungloved hand into it and it was pleasantly warm. I would have liked to have curled up in there. Instead, I pushed bales down and loaded Bob the tractor and sat and coaxed him into starting for me. It took some well placed compliments and a few promises but Bob finally rumbled to life, billowing smoke as only a cold diesel engine can. Slowly we made our way up in the cold, very slowly, both the steering and loader hydraulics where pretty sluggish.
The horses are faring well in this deep freeze, no one is showing signs of being particularly cold and I am grateful they are all plump with fat and dense coats. They certainly have needed them these past two nights. Hay was doled out with a heavy hand, water in the big tank was broken with a large steel crowbar. Even the heated buckets had a hard time keeping the top free of ice. There was a thin layer that was easily pushed in with a nose. Someone had beat me to it. I filled the heated tank with water from the big tank and went off to check and feed the girls.
Their fleeces are deep and shiny and if you dig your fingers into it, they are roasty toasty warm. Oh, to be able to harvest them right at this point...but then I'd have very cold bare naked goats and that certainly wouldn't suit. :-)
Bob was warmed up and faster back to the barn to be parked for the day. I checked on the cats again who were just slipping back into their nest and headed to the house. I can't imagine having a big barn full of many many animals during these cold winter months. What I have is just about right. Winter requires we slow down and be more deliberate in our actions, picking up hoses so they don't freeze, double checking tanks, making sure no one is cheated of feed, getting those short haired dogs in quickly and remembering to let the house cat in before you go to bed! If you don't love your animals and the life you have with them, this is the time that will test you.