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 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.
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.