Thursday, January 8, 2015

Unity Farm Journal - Second Week of January 2015

It’s -6F this morning on the farm.   We expect negative temperatures during the second and third week of January every year, so we have to prepare the animals, infrastructure, and equipment.

The alpacas and dogs have the benefit of a small oil-filled space heater in the barn which raises the internal temperature of the building about 10 degrees.    Protected from the wind, rain, sleet, snow, and ice, the animals curl up together in hay covered stalls, sharing bodily warmth while minimizing heat loss due to convection, conduction, and radiation.   See my previous post on staying warm in New England 

The chickens and guineas have 4 flat panel heaters mounted on the ceiling and walls of the coop.   The coop is dry and the floor is raised off the ground a foot.  Between the heaters and the 80 birds roosting in the space, the temperatures are 20-30 degrees above the ambient air temperature

The ducks generally prefer to be outside, but their duck house has 1 flat panel heater and is protected from the wind.    Today they are all inside their duck house.

The Japanese fountain in the moss garden is shut off - evening moving water freezes at -6F.

The equipment on the farm - the Terex tractor, the commercial mower, the wood splitter, the chainsaw, the blower, and the brush cutter have all been prepped for winter.  I’ve added diesel or gas stabilizer as appropriate to each device and filled their tanks to 90% capacity in an effort to reduce condensation and frozen fuel lines.   I’ve changed the oil in every device.   I’ve cleaned and lubricated every control system.     So far, so good, everything runs.

The humans have to wear multiple layers - a base layer for dryness, a mid layer for warmth and a shell layer for wind protection.   Balaclavas, thick gloves, and insulated boots make me feel more like an alpinist than a farmer, but spending an hour in -6F requires that degree of protection.   Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices.

The root vegetables in the hoop house have all been harvested and the turnips/radishes/beets are stored in the relative warmth of a 35F walk in refrigerator.   All the vegetable beds in the hoop house have thick row covers

Although some might prefer the warmer climates of the Southwest and Southeast this time of year, I relish the seasonal expectations of snow and cold in the winter followed by the gentle warmth of Spring.

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