Hens and Sheep it's Cold!
According to the weather report it is currently -15 in Windsor, Maine.
Water is freezing about as fast as we can get it to the animals, all the rabbits are under cover and the sheep have take refuge in the hay shed until this passes.
The ducks, on the other hand, don't seem to have noticed anything is wrong.
Sometime people ask why we chose heritage breeds. Why travel so far to get new stocks? Why not get animals that are more specialized or have higher productivity? Why have animals that are half-wild and harder to handle than some?
Days like today are part of the answer to this. Having the confidence that our animals will be okay without heaters, blankets or even without being brought up into the barn. The sheep may produce less wool, but the wool they produce keeps them incredibly warm.. The sheep don't produce as much milk as a Nubian, but they produce enough for us, and a fluffy winter coat!
And, of course, our fluffy-butt chickens! Standard Cochins are heavily feathered on their legs and feet, as well as their bodies. This natural insulation makes them incredibly cold hardy. The hens have short combs, and while the roosters like to flash their manly, red wattles, we have still had less frostbite on these boys than any other breed we have ever raised.
Likewise, our ducks - despite originally being a tropical bird - were chosen for their ability to thrive down to -10 degrees. Heck, it had to get that cold before they will voluntarily go inside!
So how did we help?
Rabbit boxes were stuff with hay for extra insulation. The goat-camper was filled with hay to give them something warmer to lay down on. The hay storage was opened up for the sheep to take refuge if needed. The birds will be shut up for a couple of day and were given a thick layer of shavings to absorb moisture and then a layer of hay for insulation.
The Husband has taken the day off to keep running warm water as needed. If the weather continues, Sherri will take tomorrow off for the same. Everyone is well fed and with little extra treat because, hey, who doesn't want to eat a little extra when we are cold!? It's been a bit exhausting - especially for Henry!
Still, so far, so good. Everyone is doing well, including our new rabbits litter which has remained warm due to a combination of hay, sheep's wool, older baby bunnies and Henry's fleece hat. Fingers crossed that temperatures increase soon and that everyone remains healthy. Tomorrow morning should be almost equally as fun!