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Winter Preparations

Winter preparations for the livestock begin about mid October. The water supply to the pastures must be turned off early enough so the cows empty the tanks on the last rotation through the paddocks. There may not be enough water in them to satisfy their thirst but they have access to the tanks at the milking parlor when they come in for milking. We know from experience that leaving the tanks full over winter will damage the valves and almost certainly crack the 300 gallon plastic tanks.  We turn them over when they are empty to keep rain and snow from accumulating in them. The hoses that connect them to the water lines are placed under the tanks. I remember a few years ago, young coyotes were teething on the hoses and destroyed many of them.

To make full use of our meager housing facilities, calves use the same barn in the winter as the hogs use in the summer and fall. Last May, we purchased Berkshire feeder pigs, a hog that is noted for its superb flavor, but also a somewhat slower growth rate. Taking the growth rate into account, I scheduled the processing dates for November instead of the usual October. That added a challenge this year, as our calves need to stay on our small paddocks near our house until the hogs are gone to the processor. The calf pastures do not have frost free waterers, so the hydrants need to be turned on in the morning and off at night, with hopes that the warmth of the sun would thaw the lines so the calves could drink. Leaving the hydrants on during a night of temperatures in the teens is asking for trouble.

The last of the hogs leave on November 19th. Then their pens need to be cleaned and bedded with fresh straw so the calves can move in, where they have access to a frost free waterer.

Of course the hoop shed where the cows lay during the snowy months needs to be cleaned out and bedded with fresh straw before the snow accumulates our in their near paddocks. They prefer laying out in the pasture as long as they don’t have to lay in snow. We sure have them spoiled, almost all wild animals have no choice but to sleep in the snow. However, we don’t expect wild animals to produce milk all winter either.