This last 10 days has been unprecedented in our area. We have had freezing temperatures but never before have we experienced negative temperatures for the length of time and on the scale. This storm was so massive it reached almost the entire midwest! For reference, February 9, 2021 was the first day where the high would not get above freezing for 10 days. Some of the temperatures were so low (the worst -15 F) that the consequences albeit unforeseen were still very real! to demonstrate how cold is cold I copied a graph from accuweather.com and pasted below. Did I mention that we also got over 12 inches of snow?
Lesson No. 1 - ICE
When water freezes it is no longer on tap. This is not a profound statement however when you are not prepared for this kind of weather event you do what you have to do. which for us was adding a brooding heat lamp to our cows watering tub and leave in the barn, then we took five-gallon-buckets worth of water to the animals. we have since decided to invest in heat tape to go around hydrants and floaters or submersible heat pumps.
Lesson No. 2 - FROSTBITE
Frostbite occurs in animal extremities like in human extremities. We had one hen that was frostbitten in her comb and on one of her toes. the principle sign is discoloration. Where our cinnamon queens normally have red combs and wattles one adult lady was found to have a grey to purple comb and some swelling on one of her toes. We put her in a stall with some younger hens and roosters (all 8-11 weeks old) they also have a brooding lamp. She is slowly improving and increasing her mobility and eventually she will go back with the hens her age.
Lesson No. 3 - LITTER FATALITIES
We had a bred sow who was due on February 14th which was when our "special weather event" was ramping up. she gave birth to 6 piglets that all died. It was horrible but there was lesson. The lesson was that if you do not move a sow before she makes her nest it is nearly impossible to move her after that. We tried several times (3 attempts) to move this sow and all with no luck. The method of death is obvious but the loss is definitely the hardest part of farming.
I am thankful that we have the opportunity to grow and learn from the situations that are outside of our control. Really if we are flexible in all things and good stewards of the things God has called us too then I believe that God will give us a way through them, and that is the hope anchoring this soul. I will close the first of many blogs with a scripture Proverbs 27:23-24.
Be diligent to know the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds; For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. AMP
Picture of our barnyard, covered in snow, and some of our buildings for the animals. picture taken 2/17/2021