Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Winter Farming Challenges

Tyler digging out the gate.
We usually have fun on the farm, but the last couple weeks have been a challenge.
On February 21st, we had a 10” snowfall. Including the storms a couple days before AND after that storm, we had a total accumulation of 16”. Those of you who live in areas that get that much snow regularly aren’t fazed by that thought. However, we don’t get that much snow on a regular basis and it basically cripples the area. The county doesn’t have enough equipment to clear the roads quickly. Fortunately, we have a 4 wheel drive truck, so we were able to get around for the most part. I got the truck stuck twice.

Feeding the animals is difficult in deep snow. Imagine carrying 40 lb hay bales through 16” of snow and ice… It’s not fun. And the subzero temperatures caused the water troughs to freeze, making watering the animals a special kind of difficult. Oh, and we had to climb gates because the snow blocked them shut.

The water rose another 6" before we started moving stuff.
Finally, the temperature warmed up enough to make the snow melt but it also rained. The combination nearly made our creek flood. There was not anything we could do to further protect the animals, but we did move a lot of stuff from the first floor of the barn to the loft. Coincidentally (and thankfully), the creek crested around the same time we were rearranging the barn.
Our neighbors, Tyler & David, helped us move our things to the loft.
Prior to the warm-up, the low temperatures caused pipes in our house to burst and claimed the lives of two of our goats. They both died overnight. Vanili, our angora buckling, died March 3rd. Grover, our oldest buck, died on March 6th.
We'll miss Grover. He was a gentle giant.

If you cry easily or have a weak stomach, you may want to stop reading here. There are things I
NEVER thought I would do before I started farming and the following are definitely some of those things.

Farming is not a high profit venture; therefore, farmers have to use every part of the animal they can just to stay in business. Sadly, that means I’ve had to learn how to skin goats in order to sell their tanned pelts. Needless to say, it is far from my favorite farm chore but I’ve done it twice in the past week.

But it gets more morbid than that… Grover had very large, very impressive horns that I’d like to have on display for our educational school tours. When I took him to the vet to be cremated, I asked if she could remove his head so we could preserve the skull and horns. Guess what… she didn’t even bat an eye. (They occasionally have to send dogs’ heads to the lab to be tested for rabies.) Suffice to say that it was like something out of a horror film. I imagine taxidermists do that sort of thing all the time. (I’m glad I’m not a taxidermist).  

So, home I go with a goat head. Removing the flesh is as simple as hanging the head in the barn so the flies can clean it off. (I know it’s gross – sorry! I hung it in an inconspicuous place.) Now, I’m not going to go into any more details on this blog, but I’d be willing to discuss it when I see you in person if you are curious about any of this.

To top off everything, as we were getting ready to take Grover for cremation, I noticed that one of our pregnant does, Magic, had something funky hanging out of her back end. We took her to the vet to discover she needed emergency surgery. I’ll write more about that in my next post.


I agree with that saying: Do something you love and you’ll never work another day of your life. At least I agree with it 80% of the time… J

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