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.
We stood in the chicken coop and the goat shed and figured out where the drafts were the strongest. In those spots, we hung wool and fleece blankets.
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.
i worry about the cats so much, if I I had all those animals, I would probably let them in the house 🙂
what about sheets of blue foam insulation outside so the goats don’t eat it? Not the most attractive solution but seems more permanent..?
Why do you think they won’t just step outside and eat that ugly stuff? Because they will. And then my cute little farm will be ugly 😦
Also, this is just for winter. We don’t want anything permanent that won’t come down in the summer
That’s called animal husbandry. As it should be. 🙂 Your animals are fortunate to live on your farm.
I’ve never heard of lining bee hives like that, but it makes sense. I probably should do that with ours too.
On the subject of shelter, our goats are exasperating. We have five open stalls, more than enough room for all of them. But the dominant goats will occupy a stall, then stand in the doorway and deny entrance to any other goat (except kids). So even in the pouring rain, there will be goats standing out in it because the bullies won’t let them inside. A friend of mine whose sheep were doing this became so frustrated that he took the shelters out of his pasture, telling them “If you won’t share the shelters, then no one gets them.” I doubt they understood the lesson.
That’s hilarious. It sounds like the way I would handle it. I have a tendency to anthropomorphize…
I had thought of making the goats ‘coats’ out of blankets. Using elastic to hold it on … underneath. Why shouldn’t I do this …?
Probably because they would eat each other’s coats in minutes.
I dress my goats in sweaters. I don’t know if they appreciate it but I do.
I’m sure they do. I just feel like they would eat the sweaters off of each other’s bodies.
My goats are too picky! I guess they don’t like the taste of wool 🙂