"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Cold Casulties

We have no snow on the ground - this picture is from a few years ago - but the past week has been intensely cold. Cold for this part of the country, of course; I know that for many of you, 15 or 20 degrees fahrenheit is downright balmy in February. Our position on a high, bare hill near the water makes things extra chilly around here. We get the unobstructed wind off the sound and with the windchill it feels even colder.

The animals have been suffering some. We haven't finished rebuilding the chicken coop and the poor birds are more exposed than I would like. The other day we left the door open so that they could seek better shelter inside the bigger barn with the rest of the animals. That maybe wasn't such a good idea: the next morning I found a chewed-up leg, just the leg, from one of the speckled hens. I don't know what kind of predator caught her, but it was something cold and hungry, that's for certain.

Rosie Pony's eyes, which were looking much better for a few weeks, are back to being all gummy and sticky, and I think the cold wind has a lot to do with it. I don't want to bathe her face in this weather. Even if I use hot water, she'll get chilled within minutes. Other than that issue, the ponies are the least affected by the cold of any of the animals. They are a little chubby and have warm, fluffy coats. The other day I wasn't wearing gloves, and halfway through chores my hands were so cold I slid them up under Poppy's mane to warm up. It was so warm and toasty! I didn't expect that a horse's mane was such an excellent insulator.

The goats, on the other hand, are not as cold hardy. The pregnant ladies are losing weight, even with extra grain and alfalfa pellets. They will be fine - this cold snap won't last much longer - but the little buckling, Haboob, is in serious trouble. There is something wrong with the little guy, and I don't know what. He never did grow very much, and everybody picks on him. Poppy, the biggest bully on the farm, even bit a chunk right out of his ear! I knew he was thin, but I didn't realize how thin until Homero came in a few days ago and told me he was worried. Haboob had fallen down.

The poor little guy's bones are practically sticking through his skin. I'm not sure what's wrong with him, but it's not just cold and hunger. He's a case of failure to thrive, and the cold might do him in. I put a jacket on him and closed him up in the warmest area I have with unlimited food and water for a few days. I also wormed him. He seems better off for now, but I worry about him. He's never going to be robust.

Meanwhile, I'm carrying water in buckets and feeding everybody extra hay. Inside the house, we are keeping warm with hot soup and wool sweaters, because we are getting pretty low on propane and need to conserve. I set the thermostat at 62 during the day, but it never feels that warm! Why is it that 62 degrees on a sunny day in April feels like heaven, but 62 degrees inside my house on a cold day in February feels freezing? The only ways to keep warm are 1) to take a hot bath, or 2) to go outside for a while and then come back in.


Laura said...

You might try a fly mask for poppy. It will help shelter her eyes from the wind, and may even trap a bit of warmth underneath.

Aimee said...

Thanks Laura. I thought of that - but one vet told me not to because she rubs her face against the fenceposts and he said the mask might cause scratching of her corneas. But since the treatment she has stopped scratching so much - I think I may go ahead and try that now.