Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Cold Front......

Alfie wearing his booties
It does make us giggle when we watch the BBC news to see the UK grind to a halt because of the snow. We chat to all family and friends back home and it seems the world has ended because of the weather.  The last heavy snow storm the UK had was about 2 years ago and we sent booties home for my sisters dog Alfie, as they are unable to get them there.  I am not sure if Alfie is ever very impressed about wearing them but he has become a bit of a trend setter in the neighbourhood for his booties.

The biggest joke is always the railways.  The UK does have a great train service, you can get anywhere but the joke always was and is the trains are delayed again because of leaves on the tracks, or it's raining or it's snowing or ooh! it's too hot today! Schools have shut down and the shops sell out of the essentials! 

So for all our family and friends back in "Blighty" this post is really for you.  Last night we hit -33 (that includes the wind chill) Other places in Canada where down to -40 and -50 so -33 could still be seen as bikini weather compared to some.

One of our Berks enjoying some hot water!

These are the days we worry about our animals, I should really change that to I worry and would like to bring them all in by the fire! I am always so delighted when you head out first thing in the morning to do chores and you see heads popping out of housing and all animals are accounted for.  

Last night we put blankets on the horses, Lily loves her blankie, but May just groans every time you put it on but it's an extra barrier for them which will keep a bit more heat in on the colder nights.  Once it is back to about -20 they will come off.  Extra bedding gets added to the pigs housing so they can burrow nice and deep and stay nice and warm.
Days like today means lots of hot water and hot food is lugged around the farm to all the animals. We like making sure they all have something warm in their bellies. I think what amazes me still is the chickens still lay in these temperatures. The trick is to be checking on the eggs regularly so they do not freeze.  

Extra bedding for the pigs.
Tonight is only meant to be -30! and all being well by the weekend we should be at the more "normal" temperatures of -10.  We hope for the sun to shine as it always makes colder days just feel that little bit warmer and I can head back into the greenhouse to harvest some spinach and kale that we still have growing.

Friday, January 11, 2013

January News

We have been a bit slow to wish everyone 
a Happy and Prosperous New Year! 

We spent our New Year out with the girls grooming pathways to all the animals and then having a bit of fun in one of the back paddocks with our team! Sadly since this photo was taken we have had a mixture of snow, sleet, rain and mild temperatures which has caused a few slippery spots and a huge  melt! We won't complain as it is putting water in our house cistern but we would still love to see another dump of snow!

The well has never really recovered to full strength since the summer drought so we made the decision some weeks ago to start bringing water up from the stream for all the animals.  It's not until you are carrying two 18 litre buckets up the hill you suddenly realise how steep it actually is! On the bright side it is a great workout, gets the heart pumping and I am going to have shoulders and arms to equal Arnie's come the spring!

January really is the month for reflection of the previous growing season and then planning for the next.
We are in full planning, selecting, scheduling, ordering mode for the CSA! This time of year it is always so nice to sit down with all the seed catalogues and I have to say drool over all those vegetables that we will be growing in the coming months.
This is also paperwork month! Getting the accounts straight, taking orders for this years pasture raised poultry (which we have to say are selling faster than ever), accepting applications for the CSA, this means lots of computer work which does send me crossed eyed by the end of the day.  

Elly & Eva are getting larger by the day, it's Eva's first so compared to Elly she looks tiny.  Elly looks like a balloon that is about to burst! She has quite a wobble as she walks around the paddock and we are starting to notice a few changes with her.  Breathing is becoming a little harder, she also struggles a little to jump up on her favourite bench!
Preparations are well under way for kidding. We have cleaned out a section of our summer kitchen and Michael is shortly going to start building kidding pens.  Eva and Elly are due around the same time and since this is our first year kidding it will of course be an interesting learning curve!

This week we also experienced quite an amazing Hoar Frost at the farm.  Being the two geeks we are we have added a description of what it is. Thanks to Wikipedia for the information.

"Hoar frost (also called radiation frost or hoarfrost or pruina) refers to the white ice crystals, loosely deposited on the ground or exposed objects, that form on cold clear nights when heat losses into the open skies cause objects to become colder than the surrounding air. A related effect is flood frost which occurs when air cooled by ground-level radiation losses travels downhill to form pockets of very cold air in depressions, valleys, and hollows. Hoar frost can form in these areas even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing. Nonetheless the frost itself will be at or below the freezing temperature of water.
Hoar frost may have different names depending on where it forms. For example, air hoar is a deposit of hoar frost on objects above the surface, such as tree branches, plant stems, wires; surface hoar is formed by fern like ice crystalsdirectly deposited on snow, ice or already frozen surfaces; crevasse hoar consists of crystals that form in glacial crevasses where water vapour can accumulate under calm weather conditions; depth hoar refers to cup shaped, faceted crystals formed within dry snow, beneath the surface.
The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective for showing signs of old age, and is used in this context in reference to the frost which makes trees and bushes look like white hair. It may also have association with hawthornwhen covered in its characteristic white spring blossom"