I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry or cold.
The first one is likely what motivated me to go to culinary school. The second one is currently causing me to lose sleep, fretting over the minute-by-minute comfort of the farm animals.
The past few nights have been bitter cold. The bone-chilling, booger-freezing, teeth-chattering kind of cold that makes the kids resort to rock-paper-scissors every time they are asked to take the dogs out.
Last year, we insulated the chicken coop with straw bales. While that provided the necessary warmth, it was also as though we had sent a formal invitation to all local rodents to join us for the winter in our lovely coop. The irresistible combination of food, water, and warmth was the perfect rodent siren call and we learned our lesson the hard way not to use straw.
One exception to this is the pigs. The pigs adore the straw. They don’t really need it as much as they love to play with it. Our five pigs keep each other warm by piling all over each other in a porcine pyramid of sorts that is as adorable as it is efficient. We provide them with bales of straw and they munch it and throw it around with their snouts and then, ultimately, pass out somewhere in the middle of all of it.
The other exception are the bees.
In an effort to achieve my goal of having alive bees in the spring, I topped each of my hives with a screen-lined bee box filled with straw. This gives the bees an added layer of moisture control and insulation.
So, when trying to come up with a warming solution for our furry and feathered friends, we had to think outside the bale.
The chickens were characteristically uninterested and seemingly unaware of the change to their digs. The goats, however, barely let us get a corner up before they were trying to eat the blankets right off the walls.
Now, knowing that these blankets would be beyond redemption come springtime, we necessarily had to choose those that we wouldn’t mind tossing.
We grabbed a couple of cheapies at the local dollar store, but then also found one or two in the closet that we were certain wouldn’t be missed. Thank you, Licensed Character Fleece.
Assuming the goats don’t eat them by morning, tonight should prove far less chilly and, hopefully, we can all get a little sleep.