As fall fades away into winter there is allot to do here on the farm. Oak leaves cover the plants naturally, so they are well bedded down for their winters sleep. The sheep with their wool coats on still need to have their shelters checked. Any holes where wind can blow in need to be fixed. Air circulation and sun light are of the utmost concern. Days when the wind really blows the sheep will stay in the shelter all day, this robs them of sun light. Urine can cause ammonia to build up quickly with out proper ventilation. Extra minerals are provided as well as protein licks so they stay fat and healthy during the worst of storms when they won't come out to eat from the pasture or hay bales for long. All of the ewes are soon to be mothers in a few short months. Keeping enough warm water flowing so they continue to drink well during blizzards is important. All water heaters and weather proof extension cords need to be checked. Barn floors need to be stripped and limed, burned if possible.
Rabbit hutches need to be cleaned and bedded down with deep hay. Our 8x4' community hutch holds 250lbs of hay. Enough to hold them for a while during the worst of winter blasts. Auto feeders are also placed in hutches so if gates are frozen down, the rabbits won't need us for a few days. The auto feeders hold up to 50lbs of feed. We only have 6 rabbits, so that gives us time to dig them out.
Poultry water is one of our greatest challenges during the winter. Geese and ducks dirty the water almost as fast as we change it. In the winter, its worse. Clean water is given 2 times a day, we carry this by bucket since hoses are not practical in the winter.
Dogs are given open range so they share the shelter and bedding with the sheep and poultry, depending on what pen they are guarding. On the coldest nights we set up heat lamps for the poultry pens. Its no fun to find out your lamps don't work when the roads are iced over and you can't get to town, so we check all the bulbs, cords etc this time of year.
It doesn't take long to get the check list done. Soon everyone will be ready for the worst of weather. They will sleep soundly in their winter homes while we rest with peace of mind in our beds. Everyone waiting patiently for spring.
There is allot of planning ahead to farming. We plan for the worst, hope for the best.
Im personally counting down the days till March when our first lambs arrive. To see all the baby bunnies running about the orchard and lambs playing in the lambing yard. That to me is the best part of winter, SPRING!