Much of this weekend was spent preparing the animals, and my work regarding them, for the cold that is to come. Later this week, highs are supposed to drop down into the mid thirties. I don’t mind those temperatures, but with the animals some preparation is required. This is particularly true regarding waterers.
When we got the rabbits all of their stuff came along with them, including heated waterers. So I switched over from regular waterers to the heated ones. One had a slow leak, so I switched it out with another.
The chicken waterer I made here had already frozen a little on one of the coldest mornings we have already had. I bought a stock tank heater that is safe to use with plastic and installed it. I drilled a hole in the top of the waterer lid and then cut a slot over to it so I could slide the cord in. For now I have some vinyl gloves blocking the rest of the whole so nothing gets in the waterer.
I will probably buy another heater for the sheeps’ water tank, but for now I will just break the ice when necessary.
The good thing about all these heaters is that they are thermostatically controlled. This means that they only come on when the temperature is cold enough to warrant it and that I am not heating the water when I don’t need to be.
I also moved some of their feed into seal-able barrels. This will make more room in the barn, and make feeding them more streamlined.
The quail will be staying in the barn a few more weeks at least. They mature faster than chickens, but they need their feathers before heading outside. The kids want to hold them, but they aren’t like chickens. They are much more flighty and skittish.
While I was getting some of these thing done, the kids came running up and exclaimed that Hunter was dead. Hunter was the kids favorite chicken. When I came to investigate it was clear that Hunter was not dead, but it was not far off. She couldn’t stand and was very weak. I told the kids to say their goodbyes. Death with farm animals is part of homestead life. Unfortunately this was not just another nameless chicken, this was the one that they all liked holding and pretty much taking her with them whenever they were outside. There were tears, and questions, and I did my best to explain why letting an animal suffer isn’t the right thing to do. I had tried to prepare them for this day, she was by far the smallest of the chickens, and just wasn’t growing. I don’t think she would have even had enough body fat on her to keep her warm when it got colder. It is taking some of the kids longer than others to get over her death, but we are doing our best to get them through it. When one of the sheep we bought last fall died, it wasn’t as big a deal because the sheep was at my brother in law’s house so the kids didn’t get attached. That wasn’t the case here.
Until next time.