Archive for winter preparedness

Getting Ready For Winter And Catching Up

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here because we’ve been busy offline. Raise your hands if you spent days around Thanksgiving traveling! We traveled Wednesday through Sunday, north of us, south of us, and then north of us again. By the way, NEVER, if you can possibly help it, NEVER travel on a highway on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. What normally takes us about 4 hours to drive took 7!!! I now officially think that colleges should stagger their return dates after major holidays.

What else were we doing? Getting the animals set up better for winter! I started with the run-in. I admit I had put off mucking out the run-in for a while (don’t ask), but it’s not as obvious that it’s building up when it’s goat pellets and hay versus when it’s horse or cow droppings. I was picking out the run-in all the time when we had large animals out there! I did not have to clean up after the pigs, because pigs make a different toilet area away from where they eat and sleep.

I needed to clear out the side I use to access the back so that I could more easily get a larger order of hay brought in. It was deep when I started.

 

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It started looking better as soon as I got the hay all off of it, but I still needed to take out the composting stuff.

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I had the brilliant idea of using my little electric tiller to break it up, making it easier for me to shovel out (we don’t have a tractor). That only worked on part of it; part of it was too hard for the tines to get into. I had to use a metal hay fork to break up the layers to shovel them off. Yes, it’s embarrassing to own up to this, but such is life sometimes!

I finally got it dug out to where I could open the gate all the way. I then proceeded to move all of the project wood that I had in the back, rearranged the feed bins, and moved the milking stand. You can see part of the back of the run-in in this picture showing my progress on the floor.

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I called in the hay delivery–40 bales. That’s the largest I’ve ever taken at one time, because I used to have firewood stored in the back of the run-in as well (still working on storing the new firewood). There’s a certain feeling of security that comes from looking at a wall of hay put up for the next 2 months! The empty feed bin in the photo is sitting on top of the milking stand. The next step for this area is filling up all available feed bins!

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Next I moved on to making a shelter for Bubba and Marshmallow since they’re still in the inside yard until they get castrated, hopefully just before Christmas. I was originally planning to build an entirely new shelter in the back behind the inside yard and against the outside wall of the coop extension. That would get them out of the inside yard, but would’ve also put them where they couldn’t easily see the other goats. I started to move plywood and 2x4s out to the area and then decided that I would rather use what I already have instead of building something from scratch and having to worry about whether I had enough plywood, could roof it well enough but simply enough to take apart after a month.

I decided to use the chicken coop. I have posted pictures of the extension before; it’s still the same size. I was on medication over the summer that made me just sweat rivers and could not stand to be outside doing anything. I even gave up the garden. I just felt too bad when I was outside.

I closed off the side that’s open to the extension to help it stay a little warmer inside. I then moved the plywood around on the front so that the door actually is on the same side as the door in the framing (I had not worked out how it would fit together before and did not have the time while I was doing all this to make a door). I added shelves for the goats to get up on and hung two hay racks.

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I have since realized that (1) Bubba and Marshmallow don’t like to go in there and (2) the chickens like to sit on top of the boys’ hay. So I need to figure out how to keep the chickens off the hay in an easily removable way. For Bubba and Marshmallow, I think they need a nightlight. I just purchased this light on Amazon. It’s an outdoor, solar-powered string of lights that costs less than $9 per strand. I bought two; I’m planning on putting one in the coop for Bubba and Marshmallow and one in the run-in for the main herd (does and whethers). The big bucks are in front of the house and get light as long as we leave the porch light on.

outdoorsolarlightsI’m thinking I’ll also block off one side under the front porch for Bubba and Marshmallow to get out of the wind during the day since they like to be on the front and west sides of the house where they can talk to other goats. They can get out of the wind now, but they can’t see anybody else when they go there so they don’t.

What have you been doing to get ready for winter?