Big Birds in Barns

The barn is heaving with birds at the moment, not only the big domestic birds- all the homeless roosters that are not allowed to live with the hens,
big birds

the peahens and the two oldest guinea fowl on the planet,

and Mr Flowers the peacock,

here is dear old Pania – one of the original peafowl,

but also many wild birds as well – flocks of sparrows, fat starlings lining the gates, not so many pigeons now. And the calls to and fro in the evenings tell me that there are a collection of different species of wild birds hiding up in the Gods. Some of them so tiny, yet so resilient to this cold environment. They are constantly on the move, shifting from warm spot to warm spot, the pigs must be a sure source of heat because the big and little birds spend a good part of their day resting close to or above the piglets.  And during the daylight hours all the birds even the big birds are searching for food. What better place than the pigs bowls. Sometimes I walk into the barn and entire flocks of sparrows rise and fly out the door.

Some birds can actually lower their body temperature so as to use less energy when it gets colder but not all of them. Most of them just fly to warmer climates for the winter – these are the sensible birds.

The peafowl do not like to get their feet cold and the ground is already a total sheet of ice, so I often hear their flying shriek, as they lift off and fly/glide between the bans and the fences. When Geraldine does this straight above my head I almost always jump with fright.

The other day Jake told me that one of his chickens had its feet frozen to the ground,  he had to pour warm water onto its feet to release it. Sometimes I find tail feathers frozen to the ground from a bird pausing too long.
the Visitor

The Visitor is still here and I saw him stealing some milk yesterday evening. He looked me in the eye and meowed to me for the first time ever. So I went to the house and brought him back another small bowl of cat food. He set to work cleaning it up. How quickly they learn how to twist people around their little paws.  He is a good sized cat so I think he has been well fed on his rounds.

About ten o’clock last night the temperature reached its low and now we are warming up for a couple of days of snow and icy rain.  If it gets warm enough  the gates will get pried loose from the ice, the hoses come out to fill up all the water troughs and hopefully I get to clean the milking room floor.  All this will be achieved in nasty weather.

Today we go back up to 24F/-4C (with an over night of 23F/5C) then up slightly to 31F /-.5C on Sunday before plummeting to 1F/-17 on Sunday. So our window for waters is not perfect and short but we will make it work.  The hoses are in the basement keeping warm too. The outside tap usually works when we are in the 20’s.

Lady Astor was a bit naughty iin the milking room last night and peed on the floor so I threw down some straw to soak up the steaming puddle until we were finished milking. By the time she was out the door the puddle and its topping of straw had frozen solid to the floor. heat lamps

The milking equipment is all hauled from the barn to  the glasshouse, when we are not milking, so they do not freeze solid.  These motors will not start in the cold. Most everything else moves into the house – the cleaning chemicals will freeze solid, the udder cream and teat iodine all goes up to the house. So in the afternoon (about three when we are at our warmest) and after everything else is set up for milking, we roll the pump out and work fast getting it all running and the cows milked before the machinery succumbs to the cold. We shine  heat lamps  on the pump and the pulsator (the pulsator is a small motor that sits on top of the bucket on the milking side of the procedure and when this piece of apparatus gets cold nothing works at all).

The cows production is dropping very slowly but I don’t think they will be ready to dry up before Christmas. We have a ways to go yet. And all in the cold.

There is talk of an over-night of -8/-22 coming up on Sunday night but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. How I LONG for a heated milking shed at this time of year. Not in the budget though so we make do. I do an equation when I breed the cows so that we do not have to milk too far into the winter. I think this is pretty cold for December.

Aunty Del came back into heat yesterday. So she is not bred. This is not the best news and I am not breeding her this late in the season so she can wait until next spring. I have not seen Lady come back into heat so she might be pregnant. I don’t mind if I only milk one cow. At the moment I feel that I would like to milk no cows at all!

Time for me to get all the milk warmed up and pig porridge made for the morning feeds.

I hope you have a lovely  day.


42 Comments on “Big Birds in Barns

    • I am very warm – I wear outdoor clothing designed for the conditions – sometimes my face or hands and feet get a bit chilled but all in all i am very well wrapped up.. c

  1. I am feeding a extra critter right now, either a feral cat, raccoon, or opossum. It is not birds or mice (no droppings) and Ihaven’t seen it yet..

  2. I foresee coq au vin in your future with all those roosters.
    It is hard for me to fathom such cold temperatures where everything freezes solid in a matter of minutes. Try and keep warm.

  3. Lady Astor! That made me laugh a lot.
    I’m with Nadia on the coq au vin, but I have to confess that all those birds together made me think of a 12 bird roast for Christmas 🙂

  4. It is 6 degrees here and I can hear the wind just whipping around the house. I can’t even imagine the wind chill. I didn’t sleep well worrying about our animals through out the night when the wind started. I’m sure they are fine- they each have warm protected beds and plenty of food but the “mother” in me worries. As soon as it’s light I’m out the door to check on all our sweet charges.

    • You and I are Birds of Feather! I fret too. I went out twice last night – the second time after I had read the weather forecast and noted rising winds from the South East. My ;pigs are in that corner so I had to go back out and check that the doors on that side were properly shut with no whistling drafts. sigh. I am always so GRATEFUL after I have done the count and everyone is noisy and clamoring for food! c

  5. The Guinea Fowl are still my favorite, so thanks for the sharing them this morning.

    The artic blast is supposed to reach Texas over the weekend. Today and tomorrow we should have highs in the 70’s before temperatures plummet 40+ degrees within a few hours.

    **I also wanted to share some non-farm related information that I think you’ll appreciate. As you probably remember, I homeschool my girls. Part of their extra-curricular activities include art classes for Lili and acting/drama classes for Naomi. Tomorrow, both of them will be participating in a variety show. Naomi has the part of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast as well as a Townsperson in Wicked. Naomi’s acting teacher has taken small acts from each of these plays and written them for the kids, so they will be very short productions, but Naomi’s first experience on stage. The older kids from another acting class will do a short production of Mama Mia and Lili’s did a painting of a scene from Mama Mia and created a clock painting from Wicked. She will be presenting her art projects at the show tomorrow. **

    • That is wonderful news – Tell the girls i am very proud of them – I have often thought of teaching drama to home schooled kids – I do miss teaching but do not have the US certifications to teach here. Your acting teacher is very clever to blend short excerpts from a fw shows – it will make it more exciting for the audience and the players. And Lili’s Art! Wonderful. Tell them both I am thrilled. c

  6. I almost hate to say it but today we will peak around 72F! But, tomorrow morning at sunrise the bottom falls out of everything and we’ll be in the single digits with gusting winds and snow. I’m ready for it, but you always remind me how very fortunate I am here. We only have the chickens and the deer to worry about. A month from today we set Emma and Ronnie deer free. I certainly hope for an early spring so they’ll have lots of good plants and buds to eat! Right now it’s feed, alfalfa hay, and twigs from branches I bring in the pen!
    I often think about assisting you with chores when I come to visit (and likely it would be in the winter). I remember how it was in the northern climate growing up… I think I’ve gotten soft in my later years. But, I think it will be fun, and humbling for me to assist!

    • When you release the young deer do you just open the gate and allow them to come and go for a while? I know you leave feed and water down under the trees for Daisy . c

  7. Milking in the cold is no fun. I often think of the beautiful milking barn my father remodeled when he married my mother. It was so perfect. The barns and the house were connected. It had a special room for the milking cans to be kept cool before they were brought to the creamery. The hay was in the attic with a hole to throw it down. There was a back door to bring out the cow shit. It would be perfect for a farmer like you. But now my nephew stores his saws and other equipment there .

    • I am moving IN with your nephew! I was saying exactly this to John yesterday – I was threatening to take the cows into the glasshouse to milk them there! Though Bulls and China Shops came to mind! A small shed attached to the house would be an amazing addition.

  8. The North Wind doth blow, And we shall have snow,
    And what will the robin do then,
    poor thing?
    He’ll sit in a barn,
    And keep himself warm,
    And hide his head under his wing,
    poor thing!

  9. I was look at a picture of Lady Astor and Aunty Del the other day and I thought that Lady Astor was probably “with calf”, but Aunty Del looked very trim, so I wondered. Our Christmas will be very quiet which is good tho Bill has asked me very nicely to make my dressing to go with the turkey. It really is delicious dressing, the cornbread variety which is what I grew up eating. The Breakfast Extravaganza will be held next Wednesday for our teachers at school. It is my annual shindig and much anticipated by the staff here. This will be my last shindig at our school….as I am retiring at the end of school year…yay! Have a wonderful day, C 🙂

    • I agree – Lady is looking just a touch larger on her ‘b’ side. But every single time Aunty came into heat there was no-one available to breed her – next year I am going back to the injections.

  10. Our peacock, Mr. Feathers, has a nice new home with a nesting shelf…and he won’t use it. He roosts in the trees and nests on hay bales under the cover of the proch roof, but he wants nothing to do with his house. It was 20 degrees F here last night and he stayed in the pine trees for the night. Any advice on coaxing him into his new house?

    • Does it have a door? with mine I literally had to lock them into the barn for a few months so they established themselves in there. But for the meantime put his food in there and feed him in the early evening – roosting time. He might be happy in the tree though. Mr Flowers will often try to sleep in the garage which is terribly cold. let me know how you go.

  11. Ooooh, it sounds like miking ready-made ice-cream! I shiver just to read about it. Here I’m preparing to go out to the beach tomorrow – to stay for nearly 2 weeks!

  12. Pania looks like she could transform into an old human dowager, perhaps Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey… I wish we could somehow trade our heat for your cold so we could both be comfortable. xx

  13. “The Barn is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.” (With apologies to Mr Shakespeare: The Tempest, Act 3, Scene 2)

  14. Which cows did you use Carlos for? Do you think any of them might be pregnant, or has he still got some growing to do?

  15. There is a wonderful short-short story by Jim Heynen titled “What Happened During the Ice Storm” –that reminds me of your fowl being lovingly cared for. It is easily Googled.

  16. Well, about the only thing tolerable this cold-wuss can see in all that is that Lady Astor’s pee didn’t freeze while it was streaming out of her! But it sounds like even pee-cicles might be in store for the next couple days. Holy cow patties! It’s COLD!!!

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