With temperatures, including wind chill, dipping down to -40 degrees F, we had a lot to prepare for and a lot to worry about. Not only do we have to be concerned about our pipes freezing and our health, we have animals to think about and a lot of times their needs come first.
How we prepared for the sub-zero temperatures:
- Feed the animals more - the metabolic needs of the animals increases as it gets colder. Plus ruminant animals maintain warmth when they are fermenting forage in their rumen.
- Provide a windbreak - getting out of the wind makes a huge difference. We gave the ewes access to a barn, the rams had a building as a windbreak, and Milo, our livestock guardian dog, also had access to a barn.
- Check on them more frequently - we're looking for any health concerns, if they have access to feed, and making sure their water is accessible (aka not frozen). We are lucky to have heated waterers, so we just have to make sure the heating element didn't go out on those (which they didn't, thank goodness!) and maybe chip some ice around the edges.
The cold affects the young, older, and injured animals more, but luckily we didn't have any animals in those high risk categories during this cold snap!
Milo goes absolutely crazy for the cold and snow. He loves to jump through the drifts and eat the snow. He's built for the cold and during the polar vortex, he laid out in a pile of hay instead of his nice shelter (much to my dismay!)
We signed up for this, we know its not always going to be easy. Looking back now we aren't in the thick of the bitter cold, these hard days make the good days that much sweeter. The American rancher has challenges no matter what region of the country they choose to call home, but it's a beautiful way of life.
And our last bit of big news: we got puppy! While we weren't in the market for another livestock guardian pup, a whoopsie litter at my husband's work brought a new sweetheart puppy into our lives. Meet Birdie!
We brought her home at the end of January, She's getting used to her kennel on the ranch and learning that the cat and chickens are friends, not food. Weighing in at 22 pounds at 10 weeks old, she's going to grow up to be a big girl. Eventually she'll work alongside Milo and they'll watch over our sheep flock and protect them from any predators. We definitely have our hands full, but we're excited to welcome Birdie to the family! Any tips on training two livestock guardian dogs at the same time are greatly appreciated!