Then January arrives. Arctic air barrels across the field and no chicken leaves the mobile house. We divert the wind from the small open hatch door using a stack of hay bales. The water inside the house freezes within 30 minutes.
It’s a challenging time of year to keep animals comfortable, and sometimes, to keep them alive.
So far today we’ve ventured out for two rounds of morning chores. Round one was to open the chicken house doors, stack bales, get food and water to them. We fed the few barn cats that showed up for breakfast and then the guard dog, Scoop, who watches over more snow plows than goats today. Round two included spreading bags of leaves for goat bedding, hauling grain and water and checking on their welfare. Round three will be go back to the chicken houses and look for eggs before they freeze.
On days like this the goats do not leave the confines of the open sided shed, or in the case of our yearlings, the enclosed dairy barn. We are so grateful to have shelter for them.
The goats will eat and sleep and periodically butt heads over perceived shortages of territory, grain or hay. In the early morning and late evening, we arrive in the barn to see them in pods or piles, often with barn cats snuggled close for a bit of extra warmth. We all hunker down.
The dining room table is covered with seed catalogs bursting with photos of broccoli, lettuce, arugula and spinach. Green seems like a foreign color, incongruent with the howling wind. -Jen