Monday, January 30, 2017

Winter on the Farm

We found several groups of trees like this in one area of the woods..some past storm.

Winter in Michigan is never predictable. We have winters with extreme cold and lots of snow and you spend much of the winter contemplating a move down south. Other years, like this one, it is almost February and there isn't but a dusting of snow on the ground and January gave you days with 50 degrees, you think Michigan winter's aren't so bad.

But either way, winter feels like the longest season. A season that you have to make preparations for.


Sheep handle winter much better than I do. Our sheep stay on pasture through the winter, we leave it open, and they have access to all of it. They know where the wind breaks are, and manage the colder season well.  Unless there is a mountain of snow, and the temps are frigid, they roam the pastures all day, getting plenty of exercise. Over the 20 plus years we have lived here, we have only had to bring them into the barns on a few occasions.

What sheep do need in the winter, is hay, and plenty of it. The colder it is, the more they eat. We feed hay 6 months out of the year. Years past, we had to buy hay. That was not always an easy task, some years hay was scarce, and expensive and we would have to sell off more lambs, than what we wanted to. The years, that hay is plentiful, we still had to find good hay, and haul it. When using square bales, we also had to have room in the barns to store it. We know raise our own hay and feed round bales. My daughters loved when we went to feeding round bales. Their chores became a lot easier. When the flock was growing, we went from feeding one square bale of hay to feeding up to 6, when there is a lot of snow on the ground and it is below freezing, dragging square bales out to the field is not something you look forward to. Six months out of the year the sheep eat grass, but the other six months, hay is a necessity.


Living in the country, we have LP as an option to heat the house. We live in an old farmhouse and  and heating cost can get pricey. When we moved here, there was only a wood furnace for heat, after one winter, this city girl demanded a high efficient LP furnace.
Several years later, the wood furnace was put back in. We still have an LP furnace, for those times when we can't be home, but the wood furnace is where the majority of our heat comes from.
I am always surprised how much wood it takes to heat the house for one winter...when you think you have enough...plan on 50 percent more! We buy a lot of our wood, but we also cut our own. There are always dead tree in the woods, or in the tree rows around the fields, that need taken down. I love wood heat, but by the end of winter, I am dreaming of warmer weather and campfires.

All of my girls have memories of breaking up ice in the water buckets. I know some say that sheep will eat snow, but we water them every day. We have had winters,where the outdoor water hydrants have broke and we had to haul water from the house (worst chore ever) And on occasion we have had to deal with frozen or broken water pipes in the house.

This past summer, Mike had to replace all of the outdoor hydrants. This winter everything is working as it should, and with the warmer winter, we have had much less ice.

Winter Blues
Winter brings with it short days, and more time cooped up in the house. It can cause depression for many. I know by February, I am looking forward to longer daylight hours, and warmer temperatures. Having indoor hobbies for me is a must!  Knitting projects, handspinning, reading, and last year, I set up a dye area in the basement. It helps to keep busy.

What challenges do you face in the winter?

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  1. I live in the Deep South, so I can't even imagine the cold winters you have. BUT, your pictures are so pretty!

  2. We have had a very mild winter. I blame my husband for purchasing a snow blower! Great post!

    1. haha :) we have only had to plow the drive once this year.

  3. Ah, the old snow blower jinx... We've been warm too and our biggest complaint is mud. Lots of mud. Sigh...

    1. Mud is no fun! We have had to deal with that this winter.

  4. Wow, what a winter! We don't get snow but it is very cold with frost! We just need to keep the water from forming ice on the top, dole out hay, and make sure the woodpile is full... And of course, an ample supply of hot cocoa!

    1. Yes, hot cocoa is a must have for long winters :)


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