Preparing for cold Weather

We are getting ready to have much colder temps here in northern Indiana.  The following is an example of what my to do list looks like when frigid weather is in the forecast.

  1. Adequate supply for heat source
  • Haul wood into woodshed. It is the best feeling to have wood ready to provide warmth for coming cold.
  • Have propane tank filled.
  •  What ever your heat source make sure to have plenty of fuel to heat your dwelling

2.    Fill chicken feeders

  •  Many chicken feeders are large enough to provide feed for several days. This reduces chores in cold weather. If I am lucky it will be a bit warmer by the time they need to be filled again.

3.   Gather extra chicken waters

  • Having them ready will save time when needing to switch out while frozen ones thaw.

4.   Turn over any water tanks not in use

  • It will eventually warm up, snow will melt and water will refreeze. This may crack any plastic containers.

5.   Wash bedding for indoor dog crate

  • I do not put my short haired indoor dog outside except for the short time it takes to potty.  I wash her bedding before the cold weather hits while she is spending time outside in nice weather.

6.  Have hay delivered

  • I do not have to open large door during cold weather.  I, also, like the extra insulation hay provides for the animals in that barn.

7.  Fill water tanks

  • Full tanks mean that I have only to chop ice or use tank heater at least for a few days of cold weather.

8.  Drain water hoses

  • It seems much easier to start with drained hoses before it gets cold.  If I don’t, I find myself hauling frozen hoses into the house to thaw before I need to haul them back out to fill tanks. SO much more work, and who needs that when dealing with frigid temps and snow.

9. Check oil, radiator, wash fluid, brake fluid, and tranny fluid in cars/trucks and fill fuel tanks

I would rather do this work while the weather is warm than when the wind is blowing wind chills of -0 degrees. Plus who? wants to deal with a broken vehicle in cold weather.

 

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Using what I Had

2014 found me feeling frustrated and defeated with my present circumstances….

I knew I was not going back to previous jobs(for a long term solution) working as an equine trainer and manager.  My current health would not allow it. Recovering from a tough onset of Mono while dealing with other chronic illness left me floundering. I found some encouragement in 2015 as I participated in the 2015 TCA Thoroughbred Makeover with Navajo Bo.  As 2016 rolled around I was giving serious thought and prayer to what was next. I strongly desired to raise my own food. I had a few ideas rolling around in my head. Chickens for eggs and meat, my own milk, butter and cheese via a cow, a garden, canning, a green house, perhaps a spring house, and a hydroponic system were some of my farming/homesteading ideas. Somewhere in all that I should be able to find a way to earn an income was my thought.

Using what I had….

​I looked around at what buildings were currently standing on the almost 12 acres.  One was a large chicken barn.  The design did not leave room for creating stalls for horses or cattle.  It was however double walled and even had some insulation were it looked like a previous owner had started to make a shop out of it. 

Chickens became the first project to pursue.  With 3 heritage breeds, they are all a developing work in progress.  I like many qualities of Scottish Highland Cattle for milk, butter, cheese and meat.  I do not have them yet and have strongly considered the American Milking Devon.  Truth is, until I actually own them, there is that possibility I will change my mind.

Chicken Project

Thirteen Swedish Flower Hen chicks were my first purchase in May of 2016.

I have since added Swedish Flower Hens from 3 additional farms to create diversity in the breeding stock.  In the fall of 2016 two more breeds caught my eye, Silver Gray Dorking and Lemon Cuckoo Niederrheiner.  Both are rather rare and hard to find I discovered but by mid November 2016 I had chicks from each breed.

Fruits and Vegatables

I planted garlic for the first time in the fall of 2016. I also grew Sweet Potatos in buckets during 2016.  I transplanted wild Black Raspberries to create a row of black raspberries. I started some grapes plants from vine cuttings and will be producing concord grapes in the future.  Did you know that in 1849 Ephraim Wales Bull planted 22,000 seeds before deciding on the what we now call the concord grape?  Amazing!  Has me wondering what variety I could develop.

The spring of 2017 found me foaling out mares for an Arab training barn.

The additional work left no time for me to plant and garden in 2017. The exception being a harvest of garlic in August.

I am always on the look out for ways to accomplish my goals with what I have, be it material possessions or personal skills, and building on that to achieve other dreams I have.

One way I helped to finance my chicken project and this website was through Swagbucks.  In 2017 I earned over $225.00.  While not a huge amount, it all adds up.

What ways have you accomplished goals and seen dreams come true using what you had available?

 

Unpleasant Tasks

Looking around on the farm, after returning from my trip out west, numerous tasks had been put off far too long.  First, I needed to recover from a nasty bug and now I find my energy level is slow in returning.  Last week, I felt as if I began to start chipping away at the list glaring in my face.  I am thankful for the days that I need to refrain from physical activity to rest my body physically.  It gives me time to work on the backside of this web site and time to write.  It does not quench the burning desire to get stuff done.

One of these tasks were most unpleasant for me.  I have said before I do not enjoy killing animals.  This had not changed, but I have been seeing an opossum sauntering off when walking into the chicken barn after dark.  Up until last week it was always out of sight by the time I returned with the gun.  Note: This species is known to carry disease(s) that spreads to not only to chickens but horses as well.  My horse hay is stored in my chicken barn at the moment.  Yuk!  ‘Possums in my barn is simply not ok with me.  Trapping them did not seem to be a great option either for I would likely catch one of my many cats or kittens before a ‘possum.

Arriving back to the barn, gun in hand, I managed one shot, but not fatal.  Due to the amount of items stored in that barn I needed to move boxes to get another.  I felt completely inadequate, wanting to simply give up on this.  Of course, I was not ok with leaving a wounded animal to suffer and some of my cats were becoming rather curious.  All did not end well, in my mind, if I did not complete that which I had started.  I found a dog kennel and positioned it, hoping the ‘possum would enter it.  While it seemed like a hopeful idea, it did not work.  I took a deep breath and prayed, “Lord how do I do this?”   He said, “Go for the heart.”  It worked!  I was thankful for the leadership and thanked Him out loud when I seen it was a female.  I knew how much harder this would had been for me had I found babies or needed to deal with babies in the barn.

Imagine my surprise when two nights later I entered the barn to see another ‘possum walking around.  I was feeling stronger over all and good thing.  Before I went to bed that night I had removed the presence of two male ‘possums.  I also seen one sneaking off into the nearby wooded area.  “You better stay out of my barn” was my silent message.

While that was all unpleasant enough, I had several bodies to depose of.  Truth: I did not feel strong enough to bury them.  I had lost some growing chickens as well. My preferred method: burning for disposal, but I was going to need some wood to fuel the fire.  Also, the area around the barn was in need of TLC to create a cleaner look and discourage animals from lurking right outside the barn.  A few hours on the riding lawn mower, a wheel barrow to haul sticks and previously cut fallen limbs provided me with wood for the fire.  While I need to mow the area again in the next week, the appearance has improved dramatically.  Certainly the lack of cover leading to the barn, while it will not stop an animal from entering it, will create a more vunerable environment to get there.  One other simple discouragement has been to only allow access to the cat food during the day.

I believed the Lord had laid it on my heart to repair the shelter next.  My spouse proved a great help to make some needed improvements.  At some point, Bo and Rosie had found a way to remove several boards on the south side.  How horses do what they do?  I have yet to figure out.  Sometimes they leave me shaking my head.  Thankful this did not result in injury.

I worked moving the manure and dirt from the area and he worked on the boards themselves.  We patched it all back together so now there is once again a south wall on the shelter.

This project is going to need more attention in the near future but Saturday we were able to provide a safe shelter for these mares.  Looking around and seeing minor improvements motivates me to tackle the next chore.

More work for another day

 

Homesteading and farming on any scale is not for the weak of heart.  I may struggle physically right now, but my spirit has not lost its spunk.  I needed to wade through my grief to find it.  I am thankful to Lord for leading me.  I have no idea how many times I have repeated Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.