We had freezing temperatures last week and early this week before it thawed a couple of days ago. With the cold came a need to brace for several months of it, protecting pipes, heating water, and such.
The first place I needed to cold-proof was in the chicken coop. The chickens drink from a five-gallon bucket with small metal waterers drilled into the bottom. They push their beaks against the metal to release the water. As soon as it became cold, though, the drops around the metal froze, and the water in the bucket turned to ice.
So I rigged up a system where I wrapped heat tape around the bucket to keep the water flowing. So far, it’s worked pretty well.
Also in the coop, I’ve needed to gather the eggs more often than usual. For a while, I only gathered them once a day, but I had several eggs burst from the cold, so I have started gathering them twice a day, or at least checking for them twice a day.
In order for them to continue laying in the winter, I hung a work light on the side of the coop and put it on a digital timer so that the chickens receive 15 hours of light instead of the winter’s usual 8-10 hours. The light signals that they can start laying eggs, and they’ve done well.
The next to freeze was the horses’ water tank, so Dad rigged up a system to put an electric water heater in the tank. This is a contraption with metal rings that float at the surface of the water. The rings provide the heat. It makes life a lot easier for us, not needing to smash thick ice to try to get down to a thin stream of water. The bull’s water tank will be next to have a water heater installed in it.
I’ve used a lot of straw bales, too. Ten went for the pump house, which looks like a tornado shelter. The bales were placed around it to keep the pipes from freezing. Six or seven are lined against the west foundation of my house. When temperatures first dropped, the floors became intensely cold because of the wind whipping out of the west. The straw helps to insulate the house against the cold.
Today, I’ve been working on putting plastic over the windows. Even thin gaps between the window and the frame can lend room for wind to squeeze through. Taping up plastic helps block that source of cold.
And what would wintertime be without a Christmas tree? I have a Charlie Brown tree this year, courtesy of the brand new Christmas tree farm in town, just opened this year.
Perfect small tree for my small house.