Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Deja vu all over again

It's winter here at the farm, and we're once again grumbling as we get back into the swing of raising cattle in the winter. Things we promised ourselves in early 2011 we'd get done by winter - like running water to the paddock and pasture and installing frost-free yard hydrants - didn't get done due to our Summer/Fall of Mourning. And now we're paying the price.

The weather has been dry but cold here the last couple of weeks, with several overnight temperatures dropping well below freezing (say, 21 degrees). Given our method of watering the cattle involves the outside hose bib and a 150' garden hose, let's just say it's been tough to keep the water trough filled for Sheila, Roxanne and Eiger. Last night the hose was frozen through the middle section, so Paul hauled 50 gallons of water by the 5-gallon bucket-full to get the trough reasonably full. See, cattle tend to drink more when it's cold, and we've been feeding the first haylage bale of the season, which also tends to make them want more water.

Thankfully, the hose was a little less frozen today. I had a tough time getting the water to flow, but finally realized that I could take the copper fitting off the end and whoosh, out came about a quart of cylindrical ice pieces! I filled the trough in no time and added the trough deicer for good measure. Those overnight temps are supposed to warm up a little bit through the next week (still in the high-20s to low 30s), but I suspect the deicer will be out for the long haul...and so will those darned buckets.

I told Paul that next year, I don't care *what* we have going on, we have GOT to get water lines installed! We are making this so hard on ourselves...and I shudder to think what it's going to be like next month when we bring Xoe home and have to manage two troughs as we separate her and Eiger from the rest of the herd. Oy.

Sometimes frost can look really mean. Look at those pointy teeth!

Hose ice. Hoser ice? Would you like some ice with that, hoser?

Roxy and friends during a thaw. We can always count on Roxy to pose...she's a natural-born model.

See what I mean?


  1. It has been in the teens and 20s here at night but was 32 this morning, it was so nice not to deal with ice. I have been draining everything before dark so I get back into action quicker the next day. My big plan ahead for this winter was to build a fence to where our horse can get water out of a creek that doesn't freeze in emergencies, I think the spring warms the water to where it seldom freezes. Your cattle look so warm, you have the right breed for cold.

  2. Watering in winter. I feel your pain. We drag the hoses in the garage so they don't freeze solid and then bring them back out everyday. Honestly sometimes it's easier to just grab a bucket and haul the water out there.

    You're right, Roxy is a natural!

  3. We also use a hose set up and curling it up under a black watering "tank" helps.. as well as bringing the hose in during the day. What is a pretty "quick" fix though is if you set up enough water tubs to last you 3-4 days.. that way, you only have to go through the de-ice.. hose deployment issue a couple times a week.. instead of every day! The added benefit for us is that in hot summer months we don't have to worry about them going without water since they have "backups"!

  4. We're in the same boat! Cold and wet make everything 10 times harder. Bah Humbug!

  5. hi amy,

    i leave my hose stretched out on the ground from trough to faucet even in freezing weather, but every time immediately after i fill the water, i unscrew the hose from the faucet, and walk along the length of the hose, lifting it up in sections to drain all the water out. then it won't matter if it freezes. and no hauling buckets :)

  6. But what BEAUTIFUL pictures! (easy for this mid-westerner non-farmer to say...) Thinking of you too (and our rants). Sigh... hang in there friend!!!


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