Another snowstorm….and it’s officially Spring

Well, we were expecting a little snow, but this is just too much.  It started snowing yesterday, Saturday, evening and has been constant since then with wind speeds up to 35 mph.  We are really stunned to see this.  This is the 3rd major snow for us this winter, and it is highly unusual to get any snowfall during a winter.   We are northeast of Dallas.  The El Nino phenomenon has kicked in big time. 

I got everyone tucked in  Friday  night.  The alpacas got plenty of hay; the chickens got their feeders filled and water topped off.  I cleaned up the barn and everyone had clean places to lounge.  The wind has been straight out of the west and right into the barn and out the other east doors.  We left the roll up doors open in case they wanted to go out, but so far they have not.  They all have a coating of snow on them but are warm enough cushing in the barn.

The chickens filed out of the coops when their little door was opened and milled around.  They don’t mind the weather, and the barn is a space they like to hang out in and they are protected there.

We just stayed in the house and watched it snow.  Monday it is supposed to be in the 60’s so this will all melt soon enough, but we will be back into the wet and mucky ground once again.  More rain is expected this week.  We can’t seem to dry out more than two days before we have more wet weather.

We just were not expecting all this white; it’s about 3 inches on the ground and we are supposed to get another 3 or more today.  Unbelievable North Texas weather.

Advertisements

Snow, snow and more snow

We have had now 12+ hours of ongoing snowfall. This is very unusual for our area and has set a snowfall record for this calendar date and also for the amount of total snowfall in a season for our area.  The snow is expected to continue through until the early morning hours of Friday morning then taper off.  Saturday is supposed to be in the 50’s.

Today on my way to work I slid off our little country road (the road has a sharp turn in it; I turned the Explorer steering wheel,  but it kept going straight).  Off the road, into the ditch and up the other side and into the neighbors pasture as I steered it back down the ditch and up onto our road.  And mind you my foot was not even on the gas pedal the entire time.  The vehicle took on a life of it’s own.  Luckily in that section of the road there were no trees, poles or pasture fencing.  I went on to work, very slowly, but the outcome could have been totally different. 

I am amazed at the bravado drivers have in bad weather and choose to impose their bravado onto other drivers by endangering everyone’s safety.  I also don’t understand the drivers who choose not to turn on their vehicle headlights as a matter of safe visibility.  Not because they can’t see, but because I can’t see them in downpouring rain or like today when the snow was so thick I could not see them until they were there, and especially WHITE vehicles. Duh.  That’s why I choose to stay home if I can in bad weather; not because I am a coward, but because I choose to stay out of the way of those idiots.

Please drive safely and TURN ON your headlights so we can see YOU.

What sun? What solar?

So, I read back through some of my chicken stuff I previously posted and I must look into that solar waterer I mentioned.  This is the second winter with the chickens and this winter it is mighty cold out there for Texas.  I really like that solar waterer, but what if the sun just isn’t shining?  That is one drawback for solar but there are really no alternatives short of hooking up electrical cords which I just will not do for safety reasons, mine and the animals.

The  chickens do have a backup plan and that is the alpaca’s five gallon buckets I have their water in.  Standing on the ground, the chickens can reach the uppermost bit of water if the bucket is 3/4 full.  Any less than that and they just hop on the bucket edge and dip down.  Works all year round for them.  So really my dilemma is keeping the alpaca’s water unfrozen for everyone to use, which I keep in the barn and are not in the sun, intentionally anyway.  The buckets are positioned near doorways and so if the sun happens to be shining in, then they are in the sun for a short time.

One thought I had  was superheating some rocks and placing them in the buckets. The danger I am reading is that they can dangerously explode when any moisture in them explodes them as it heats.  I don’t know how long they would hold their heat (based on size and mass this science flunky knows) but surely it would be of some use. I am looking into that idea (it’s free anyway). I might try the idea of using the lava rocks that are used in some outdoor grills.  Those kind of rocks can be heated safely, but can they be reheated safely after being in water?  Many questions; looking for answers.

Our record breaking cold weather will be even more so in the next few days as we get more rain (snow, ice?) and dip down into the 20’s in the DAY, and low teens at night. 

However, I must say, even in the cold, I do enjoy going out to the barn around 9 pm and tucking everyone in, filling chicken feeders, closing them in the coops, throwing hay to the alpacas and taking out chunks of ice in the water so they can have a sip as they settle in.  When the air is calm, the air cold and crisp, the sky clear and star- filled, there is nothing better than to be in the barn tending the animals.

Some links to heating water ideas:

 http://www.bird-house-bath.com/heated-bird-baths.html

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/facts/info_water.htm

http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/pubnwsltr/TRIM/10003.pdf

http://cancrete.com/cdn/products-C350.asp

http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex5421

http://www.solarpowerfamily.com/solar-power-livestock-water-heater.html

http://www.nelsonmfg.com/a700H_006.htm

Journey North/Journey South

After Christmas, and in the cold and unfriendly months of winter,it’s always hard to keep children out of each other’s hair (at least it was for me and my two brothers).  I subscribe to this website that offers helpful ideas for keeping kids in tune with the natural world around them.  Sign up for it (they are not aggressive with the emails, only once a month) and see the handouts and ideas they have for having kids observe their natural world.

Resources to Explore 
You’ll find help for getting started, activities, handouts, and other teaching tools. 
http://www.learner.org/jnorth/pde/spring2010/Update010110.html#resources

Making hay while the sun (doesn’t) shine

Old Sayings. Wise Words. Idioms.  I just love these. I have actually put a link under blogroll in the left column and you can see others or sign up to have some delivered daily.

 

Make hay while the sun shines
 

 
Take advantage of favorable circumstances; they may not last.   1
 

I used this particular one because on Wednesday evening as I was feeding alpacas and shutting in the chickens, the weather was so nice.  The wind was calm, the temperature was warm enough I was getting warm to the point of shedding my jacket, which I finally did. 

I knew it was supposed  to turn bitter cold the next day so I took advantage of the moment and did some pasture maintenance.  That is what I meant by using the idiom in the title today.  The sun was not shining but I decided to take advantage of the great weather.  It was dark but the lights on our barn light six pastures quite adequately out several hundred feet.  The alpacas in most of those pastures have a  poop pile somewhat near to their barn entrances and I have great access to quickly clean up.  As you may or may not know, the alpacas create one communal dung pile in each of their pastures and clean up is required to help control  parasites.  I was so glad I did take that little bit of time because it really is cold these past two days.  Luckily it will not last, and this weekend will be back into the 60’s and next week into the 70’s.

Look up some of your favorite idioms.  Some other favorites since I have chickens, is: ” don’t count your chickens before they hatch”, and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.