Saturday, January 4, 2014

Baby, It's Cold Outside

For those who not have experienced Winter Storm Hercules , it's currently -10F at Unity Farm (not wind chill, that's -15F).    We have 10 inches of new fallen snow.

As I've written about previously, all the animals have protection from wind and water.  Wall mounted heaters are protecting them from frostbite.      At dawn we gave the alpaca and llama large bowls of alfalfa mixed with molasses.   The chickens and guinea fowl ate hot oatmeal mixed with dried cherries.   The ducks got a warm duck soup of chopped greens and warm water.    The dogs got an extra helping of their favorite dog food.   The rabbit got a very sweet banana.

Here are a few photos at -10F from Unity.    Yes, an iPhone 5S works well at that temperature, although fingers using the phone do not last long.

I added bricks to the top of the bee hives to prevent the covers from blowing off.   We added sugar feeders to the inside of each hive and replaced the hive opening with a very small "winter" front door.  A capping of snow insulation is keeping them warm.    

We refilled every bird feeder, ensuring our juncos, chickadees, bluebirds, wrens, finches, titmice, woodpeckers, cardinals, and nuthatches have maximal nutrition.

The cider house is keeping all the apple picking and beekeeping equipment safe from the elements.

We shoveled all the paths and gates for easy access to the coops and paddocks.

The hoop house is a balmy 28F, keeping our winter vegetables growing by trapping the heat of the sun.

The blowing snow drifts created Zastrugi in the orchard 

The pastures are covered with a blanket of snow.   After 2 years of moving snow, mulch, and manure with a hand drawn wagon, I'm finally considering a tractor.

Shiro, our 120 pound Great Pyrenees male, has very big paws for scrambling through snow.

The duck pond is frozen and covered with snow, although the water is still circulating below the surface.     The ducks bathe in their 50 gallon stock pond that is heated to 40F.

We dug out the garden shed to access all our snow management tools.

Shiro kept a close eye on everything during the storm.

We removed the roof from the mushroom house to keep it from collapsing under the weight of ice and snow.

We have three mushroom "laying" yards where fruiting logs are kept for harvest.   At this time of year, the only creatures exploring the laying yards are deer, rabbits and foxes.

The dogs are begging for a run on the trails, but at the moment only deer are running through the 10 inches of loose powder.

I've split 8 cords of wood for heating this winter.   We'll use half a cord during the duration of Hercules and the freezing days to follow.

Stay warm!


Kevin Groff said...

I would recommend moving Unity Farm to Texas,70's yesterday, etc. However...then you would need A/C units in the summer for 100+ temperatures. Stay warm!!

Unknown said...

Love it, John. Such and inspiration for us out here in Southern California. I have about 40+ fruit trees that I've dug holes for using a breaker bar to get through the clay by hand, mixed soil, and planted. But, nothing to the scale of your amazing farm.

Thank you for sharing, and hope to visit, quite literally, the farm one day.

Elizabeth said...

The perfect life....great blog. Thanks for sharing.