The winter barn

John has been working hard to get the winter barn, our other barn across the creek that is really a ditch, up to code  for the winter. We prefer this barn for the animals in the winter as it has a dirt floor. The concrete floor in the home barn, like our temperatures,  gets SO cold.  Dirt is better. John has made new gates, patched walls, replaced corners and installed new windows  – the maintenance on these old barns is never ending.  But if we want to use the original barns then we need to work to preserve them.

Of course not everyone can go over to the West barn for the winter. Lady Astor, Alex (the new Dexter heifer) and Naomi will stay close to home for lots of training.  Plus Tima and Tane the old married kunekune couple. And Sheila of course. My barn would be a misery without Sheila.

We have built Manu (the Hereford Boar) his own apartment, with an adjoining apartment for Poppy (the Hereford Sow) though she will not move in until January when she will be ready to begin another round of piglets.

west barn

Queenies Bobby, and Aunty Del have their own space  in the barn with a concrete pad that leads out to the fields.


And Carlos IV  (the Dexter bull) will join them when he arrives in a week – though initially he will be staying in the corner pen to get used to the smells and sounds of his new home.  He is going to look very small against these two.

Manu (the Herford Boar) and Carlos IV (The Dexter Bull) will live in the palatial  Winter barn for ever. The girls will come and go but this is the Boys Home. There is less disruption on the home farm if the men have their own pad. And when the time is right the girls will be trucked across to the boys to stay a while.

And here is Hugo’s last job. Stacking 50 bales of straw and 50 bales of good alfalfa hay into the West Barn.


And as an interesting aside it appears that beavers have moved into the creek that is really a ditch.


They will go about their work of cleaning up the waterways of weed trees and so forth and building their dams for babies in the spring and the ducks in the summer. I love it when wild animals camp close by.


I don’t know much about beavers (other than they mate for life)  so I look forward to researching them.  I would not mind seeing one sometime either – hopefully with Camera House in my hand! Thank goodness there are not fur trappers around here (I hope).

I hope you have a good day.

Love celi



39 Comments on “The winter barn

  1. oh beavers! How exciting! Oh please have camera house if you spot them. Can’t wait to see them.

  2. You have it all arranged! I love the idea of the Batchelor’s Quarters until it’s time for the Brides to visit. You have gone from a very girl-heavy situation to one where there are more boys; perhaps all the testosterone in the air will make breeding easier. Can’t wait to see the Dexters, I’ve always found them very cuddly in appearance but quite determined.

  3. Sounds like you are playing chess with all that moving around LOL. Do you keep a board somewhere to keep track of where everyone is?
    Although I have been prepping for winter too, it has been very mild here, and they say this trend will continue through to the end of the year. I am not complaining as I have lots of winter veggies in the garden (Kale, Collards, Broccoli and Cauliflower) which I hope to be picking for a long time yet.

  4. Glad to know the preparations are going to plan. Beavers! a new interest for us , but we will all miss Hugo. When does he leave? I wish him peace, comfort and a bright future ahead. Being young is not easy these days.

  5. Watch for your beavers at dusk! We have some in the creek near our house and they seem to be most active around that time.

  6. Sounds like everyone will have wonderful winters quarters, with company, which is so important! And beavers! That is really exciting! And wonderful! xo

  7. I am envious of your barns! We lack in quantity of good facilities. With time, though, we may get there. In the meantime, we go back to the drawing board (like you – I think) and rearrange plans; consider what is working and what is not. (I feel your pain with the cattle-breeding and wish you luck with your Dexter.)

  8. There are two times that it is easiest to watch beavers. EARLY in the morning – just dawn – and then again at dusk. That is when they make the trek in and out of their dens. Hmmm…. I see a dam … but somewhere they’re going to need to build a lodge. I wonder if they’ll build it right into the side of the ditch/creek. With beavers on your side your ditch may very well become a pool by the spring!

  9. Considering that the year is winding down, you have lots of excitement in preparation. I’d love to see the beavers, and also a BIG picture of the little Dexter bull. I don’t think I’ve seen Manu either.
    It will be a sad day when Hugo goes – I’ve felt reassured by his hardworking presence taking some of the load from your shoulders.

    Lots of love,
    ViV xox

  10. Beavers might be exciting to watch, but they’re a nuisance for me at the cabin. They will travel quite a distance to take down trees. Round the cabin they move form the river about 5 acres in any direction. They seems to prefer the young pines but they have taken down a cottonwood with a trunk of about 2 ft. Also, be on the lookout because this year all the eggs and two chick sandhill cranes were lost to them at the bird sanctuary. Of course, once you get the hang of living with the flappy tailed buddies, and once you protect the trees with wire mesh, they will be loads of fun to watch…until they build a lake from the stream that was a ditch. 😀

    • This is ditch is HUGE, I cannot even cross it, more power to them if they can flood it- the dam would by about 30 feet high and just as wide! At least!.. and no trees around here to speak of so I don’t know what they are thinking. So few trees.. c

  11. I hope Manu and Carlos IV become good friends – they’ll want you to install a club house complete with bar and pool table 😉

  12. I agree with Veronica beavers are fun until they remove your fruit trees and flood the fields. You might want to start with the mesh real soon as I am guessing you will have the best trees and closest ones for the beaver family to use as building material. Also unless family owns both sides of the ditch and is agreeable to letting the beavers stay don’t be surprised if their dam and lodge gets broken up in an effort to encourage them to move on in the spring. Most people don’t hunt them they just keep making it difficult for them to live in an area. If they stay the best way to get to see them is to plan to spend some time quietly sitting and waiting. Make sure you don’t make noise or cast a reflection or shadow onto the water. They are very aware of what doesn’t belong outside the water. If the water is clear enough you might be able to see them checking you out from the safety of their pool.
    It is great plan to separate the males from the females. While concrete is cold it also is easier to clean and disinfect. Hopefully you limed the dirt floor of the other barn because wasn’t that where the sick calves started out? Your adult animals should be strong enough to not be affected but having livestock there can keep the viruses alive. So maybe think about setting up footbaths for the returnees when they go to visit and make sure they are clean when they return.

  13. Well, you certainly are going international. Your Canadian readers will be pleased you have “imported” one of our national symbols. Yes, please do mesh up your trees, otherwise you won’t be thinking kindly of those industrious little furry folk.
    Chris S in Canada

    • Yes, I have been thinking exactly the same… and, above here, Jeanne and Veronica described the situation well. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if neighbours cleared the little devils out very quickly. As cute as they can be, as fascinating as it can be to watch them, they will soon take down good trees and turn your DRAINAGE ditches into big round ponds to the point the creek is useless. When I was a kid my family had a summer cottage and we used to take the canoe off the lake and up the river at dusk to watch the beavers at work. It was fun, yes, and they DO slap their tails on the surface as a warning to others that intruders are on the scene and the babies are darling…. but you really don’t want them setting up housekeeping too nearby.
      Hugo, your last job??? Yes, you will be missed! Hope you have had a wonderful time and that you did, in fact, learn enough English to get by. Please keep us up to date on your future wanderings. ~ Mame 🙂

      • Yes, Hugo. I, for one, would also love to know of your future travels. Join us in the lounge, why not? Otherwise, Tu nous manqueras. Love, Gayle in sunny Sacramento, California…I lied. It’s dark out now.

  14. Dad beaver does a lot of the baby care. The babies are precocious – they are born fully furred, unlike many other rodents, but they stay with mom and dad for a couple of years. A pair can level 400 trees per year.

    • well they are half a mile from here with about four trees in between – I am not sure why they have set up here.. there are no trees close by and to get to our trees they will have to go through the fences and the fields – and a lot of open ground – so we will see.

      • They may not stick around. Hard to build a house without the timbers. But I read that the ones in your area tend to dig burrows in the riverbank. Fascinating animals! And HUGE. Our female was about 70lbs. Also, they have a cloaca like a bird. That’s some food for thought.

  15. Sorry to hear that Hugo is moving on, but it sounds as though he has been a huge asset to your operation. Can’t wait to see photos of the Dexters!

  16. Interesting about the beavers. What a dam he (or the couple) has built, wow, and what a stable one. As some have already mentioned it to protect your own trees will be a must. They will choose yours when there are no others around. Where did you stand to get that shot? Did you go into the water for it? There’s no bridge over your creek/ditch… is it?
    So many things to do and to think of before Winter. And so much work. You’ll be well prepared I think. – Hugo’s last work: When will be his departure? Please tell us for waving good bye… I wish you all the best, Hugo!
    With love, Irmi

  17. You’re an animal landlord! Years ago, I was riding along the West Fork of the Gila River in SW New Mexico and saw a beaver swimming under the clear water. It was dreamlike, the shape gliding. I didn’t get a picture, but to this day, it’s vivid in my mind. Question for you. The Kunekunes seem quite small in comparison with the herefords. Is that a correct impression? They look very cute, but I imagine they have personalities …

  18. Oh, I’m so excited about the beavers! I don’t know much about their habitat, but we used to see them at the cabin lake in the spring. It was always special to hear them slapping their tails on the water! I hope there are no predators about, and that they manage to survive the harsh winters. I have never seen them set up housekeeping in a canal, but I guess they know what they’re doing! Isn’t it a bit exciting getting ready for winter? I love tapping into my inner squirrel and getting my stores built up and preparations made for the cold weather.

  19. I love how you have both barns all arranged! What would you think of drawing out a floor plan so those of us who are visual processors could get an idea of how it all works together?? 🙂

  20. It’s good that the winter barn has water that’s more readily available than on the farmy. You could never cart water for 2 barns filled with animals by yourself.
    Beavers moved into our family property in Michigan a number of years ago. They only lasted a year or two before moving on. I don’t think the creek bed was suitable for them. Even so, they were the first beavers spotted in that area in 100 years.

  21. Hi Celi,
    I recently photographed a beaver at work building a home at the Lincoln Marsh by my home. What fun animals to watch!!

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