Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Cause If Elizabeth Ain't Happy...



This fall I moved the oldest sheep into the lamb paddock.  It's small, but the grass is was thick, there's a cute little shed and best of all, having the oldsters gated away from the pigsters, they could have free access to as much hay and grain as they wanted. 

With the weather turning so cold I decided to move everyone back into the "big barn".  Surely it would be warmer tucked into the inside stall, they could go drink from the heated water tank...  Elizabeth had complained about moving to the retirement home...for about one day.  Now she wanted no part of moving back.  

Okay.

So I stapled heavy plastic around the outside, cutting out the wind blowing through the cracks.  I added extra straw to keep them further up off the cold ground.  The water...that was the problem.  We do have a heated bucket, but I get very nervous plugging anything electric like that into a barn.  

On nights when it was only getting down into the 20s I was having good luck tucking their water bucket into mound of straw.  I knew that wasn't going to work in the single digits.  I again asked Elizabeth to move inside.  

"NOOOO!!!!!"

"O-KAY!!!"

I'd read somewhere that you could build a box around your outdoor stock tanks and stuff it with horse manure to insulate.  Yeah, sounds gross, but if you've ever dug into a pile of compost on a cold day...you know why they recommend that.  I decided to try it with a couple buckets.


I used a manure/sawdust mix (Thanks, Hickory ;-) for the bottom 4 or 5 inches.  I couldn't bring myself to use that around the drinking part though, so stuffed as much hay and straw in there as I could and hoped for the best.


It got down to 10 last night and this was all the ice that had built up!  I tapped that hole with the corner of my feed scoop.  Maybe 1/4 of an inch of ice and I'm guessing she and Jester had access to water most of the night.  Sweet :-D.


Now I just carry the whole contraption into the barn, stick a temporary immersible heater in it to warm it up and back out to the little barn it goes.   Animals will drink more water in the winter if it's warm plus I figure it can't hurt to warm up the insulation a little too.


"Thanks!"

Actually, that's the "Hey are you going to give me a cookie?" face. 

To which I of course said, "Sure, as soon as I get done with the rest of the chores." 

And then forgot :-(. 

Looks like cookies for lunch today :-).


19 comments:

Tyche's Minder said...

Insert the twilight zone theme song here. I posted on a very related topic -- POOP -- just now. But I forgot to include this use. I have thought about doing this, but haven't felt like I have the right physical space to make it work. I may rethink that. Frozen water buckets are the bane of my existence.

Suz said...

oh my, you are such a good mom
I always think bout animals in barns...how do they survive in the cold
my husband laughs at me..."wool coats"
...oh....

Tombstone Livestock said...

They probably don't drink a lot of water during the night anyway so if they have warm water when eating they can probably get thru the night. Can't be too cautious with critters and electrical cords and waterers. I have one ram that everytime I tie panels back together with hay rope and he watches me he will then come chew it to pieces. Don't know what he would do if he had access to electrical cords.

Have had 8 straight nights below freezing here in sunny CA.

Andee said...

That is so smart.

Mary said...

So clever! And i love her face! She's awesome, and i assume.. happy now? Lol

Sheepmom said...

That is an ol-l-l-l-d-dd sheep face. You are giving her such a good retirement. We're with you on the no cord/no heater policy in the barn. But the immersible under supervision is smart!

I think you need to keep cookies in your pockets just in case....

Miha Giustina said...

Elizabeth has the most hypnotic eyes! :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Elizabeth must be your oldest sheep...I hope she got her cookie LATER! Genius waterer solution:)

Pam said...

I love it-poop as an insulator!! Maybe you could train Elizabeth to actually poop into that little 1" space between the water bucket and the outer bucket, thus cutting your work down even further!

Jan baby said...

I guess EVERYTHING gets recycled and repurposed.

www.bergamascosbabydollbrigade.com said...

I'm going to have to try this, hauling hot water to melt the frozen is NOT fun.

Shirley said...

Ingenious!

Tiggeriffic said...

Talking with my sister Lynn (Carolina Trekker) this evening. She said don't you just love the last picture on the 2012 calendar? Jester...catching the snowflake with his tongue.. She said she got a frame and put it in her kitchen. When I went to her house last May she has a lot of your calender pictures in frames hanging in almost every room of her house.. I think that is so cool~!
Love all your calendars and all your pictures and stories.. Just loved reading this one and all the hard work you do to keep everyone happy... Have a blessed day~! ta ta for now from Iowa:)

Spinners End Farm said...

She knows her mind that old ewe! I'm sick of the sub zero temps and the teens and yearn for some 20's.....

small farm girl said...

Ooooooooo good idea!!!! Because, well, I have plenty of "compost" around here. :-)

small farm girl said...

Ooooooooo good idea!!!! Because, well, I have plenty of "compost" around here. :-)

LannieK said...

Great solution ~ You are such a good mom! Elizabeth is such a sweetie - looks so happy, as they all do :-)

Susan Mckee-Nugent said...

Great story and I am sure Elizabeth said everything just as you recorded it :)

Eleanor P said...

Elizabeth is such a beautiful old girl. Please hug her (or give her a cookie) for me. Old sheep are a wonderful treasure!

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