The temperature dropped last night. Colder weather brings a new series of issues with our animals. The primary concern with below freezing temperatures is how to keep water available for the animals. Today, our solution was to change the water frequently. That's not going to work all the time. I won't always be here to stir the water three times a day. I also prefer not to go outside and mess with water when it's cold. In fact, I prefer not to go outside at all when it's cold.
Now, I understand that as a farmer I am obligated to take care of the animals. It's an obligation I take seriously. I will go out when it's cold. I just won't like it. Also, if I could go out less frequently, I'd like that. Because of my desire to go out less frequently I've been researching de-icing solutions.
It appears that our cheapest fix for the chickens is to pull the waterer out of the coop at night and during the day position the heat lamp closer to the waterer. Sounds easy enough. We'll be trying this starting tonight.
Our fix for the cow seems a bit more complicated. We could get a de-icer for about $25 but it's a floating one. We are concerned that the cow would play with it. I'm not sure that's our best option. Breaking the ice a couple times a day is an option. We rarely spend more than four or five hours away from home. As long as we made sure the water was clear before we left, the cow should be able to drink enough while we are gone. There are heated buckets but they are kind of pricey.
It's funny to think that this time last year we didn't have any thoughts about taking care of animals during the winter. We were just praying that we'd be living on the farm soon. It's amazing what a difference a year makes.