The Ring-Master

Sheila. Showing you her performing cows.  She literally has them running rings around her. They obey her every bark.
pig and calves

Not a lot of news from yesterday unless you want to call weather news. Which I would rather not but that is all I have.


Frozen rain was falling from the sky over-night.  As we prepare for the plummet in temperatures.


I have given in and tested a heat lamp above the entrance to the piglets igloo. It is as safe as a hot light bulb suspended above tinder dry straw can be. I am not sure how much of a difference it will make temperature wise but it does cheer the area up. Right now we are at 27F/-2C which is OK. But today the wind has shifted to the North and temperatures will not rise again instead they begin a steady slide down to -8F on Sunday night. No highs for a few days which is weird, only lows and lowers. The temperature itself is manageable but with high winds and blowing snow thrown in,  it will be a chilly few days for the animals.   But the bad cold is only for about 48 hours then we rise again.

I know it sounds like I am fretting but I am. I was hoping that the bad cold would not come until January when these little pigs were a month older and thirty pounds heavier.

I wear a lot of clothes, the right clothes for the conditions so I am always warm – I worry about a little pig getting chilled and being unable to warm itself back up again so I will be keeping a close watch.

It is black dark and I can hear a calf calling out, he sounds like he is right under the window, either the snow is heavy in low dark clouds and the sound is carrying or they really are right under the window.

Time to get up and see what is going on. Usually they do not get out of bed until they hear us coming.  And Sheila the ring master is always the last to get out of bed she does not like to be woken early!

Have a great day.


66 Comments on “The Ring-Master

  1. we could knit some thick woolly coats for the dog coats only wider

  2. The cold has come here as well. -30celsius last night. I don’t have outside animals but I was fretting over the little parakeet in the living room as the house got quite cold during the night. I debated taking him to bed to keep him warm! The dog was curled up snug inside his blankets nose and all. Stay warm!

  3. She’s definitely been reading Animal Farm – you’ll have to see if you can find her copy and remove the latter pages…
    Have you tried measuring the temperature of the pigloo (house not bathroom) to see if it gets cold at night?

  4. We have a reprieve here with the temperature around 56 today! It feels like springtime, which, of course, is super exciting!!! But tonight it plummets to 12 degrees, and stays really cold for the next couple of days. Yep, I think the cold weather is here whether or not we want to face that fact! 😦

  5. It’s just really foggy here today, not very cold though. Your cold is something else. I hope all is well with the calves.

  6. And now I have a mental image of the divine Miss S, wearing a rakish little red top hat, a striped waistcoat and red tailcoat, urging us all to Roll Up, Roll Up and watch the Performing Calves Jumping Through Flaming Hoops…. May the early morning calfsong be simple hunger, may the piggies stay warm and cosy, and may Miss Sheila’s shadow never decrease. Stay safe and warm today.

  7. those temperatures make me want to curl up into a little ball next to a fire … then I just go outside 🙂 Enjoy your weekend. Laura

  8. What about switching the light to one of those warming pads they sell for baby pigs? We use them for baby lambs and feel a bit safer than lamps.

    • They would be a lot safer and I have thought of those but The thing is they are not baby pigs anymore and CHEW everything, and then eat it, they put everything in their mouths just like toddlers, they would simply eat them up. Two are small the rest are big and fat and rambunctious, the straw is deep under them and on the roof above them. I can only really heat their entrance. I just have to take the risk. This was a late litter – it will never happen again, but I had to let poppy breed late or she would not have bred at all and maybe never again so – well you see my problem – every day they get fatter and better able to manage so I am feeding them like crazy. c

  9. -23* F in western Wyoming this morning….hoping for -5 to 0 in a couple hours to commence milking – NOT looking forward to that or chopping the creek ice for the beef cows. A long time ago I had bitty weaner pigs – 20 or so pounds – in the winter (-20F or so at times). They just had a shed with lots of straw and would bury themselves deep. I’d have to wake them to feed them warm milk with grain and when they had their fill they’d burrow back into the straw till the sun came up. I hated to get them up in the cold but was working two jobs (single mom) at the time and had to be to work early.

    • Very cold for us this morning, too. -18. (Hi Marcia!) But the wind has died, thank goodness. And when I checked the animals for the last time last night, all was well. I will make myself wait for daylight before venturing outside. Pecan pancakes with maple syrup is on the menu. The kids will be happy and it will be a good distract until I can get outside.

      • Mornin’ Elizabeth — pecan pancakes sound divine! I do like to read what you’re having for dinner also!

        • They were wonderful! Thank you for the compliment! I would write about food more often but one of my sisters reads the blog and she thinks recipes are “boring”. HA!

    • Thank you Marcia this is what I hope too. -23F is very cold. Good luck with the milking. I chose 3pm as my once a day milking time as it is usually the warmest hours of the day. I hate milking in the winter this is why I am not breeding Aunty for a few months. c

      • I really dislike milking in the winter also but this year it just turned out something I had to do. I plan on retiring my old Molly — going on 10 and has issues with milk fever and I think she deserves it — has been the BEST since I got her as a 2 yr. old….but I’m still milking her right now — she’s still giving about 3 gal. a day going on 17 months now and my replacement cow – Tulip – calved in March, one day after I brought her home — so her calf is weaned now and she’s still giving over 2 1/2 gallons. I could dry them both, but I have a couple milk customers (it is legal to sell raw milk in Wyoming!!) and it brings in a little extra income and the one family (5 little kids) depend on it for health reasons which makes me happy. Now up to -15* — soon to head out.

          • I had read somewhere that if they are giving under 3 gal. a day you can just stop milking, however I’ve found it hard to do unless they are under 2 — they just look SO uncomfortable and even then I taper off milking every other day and NO extras at all — just pasture or hay.

  10. I try not to think too much about the discomfort of winter. We have to be tough-skinned because there is a job to do, and animals (or people) relying on us. Part of me embraces the challenge and knows that I have done my best. But the greater part of me worries about what I cannot control or manage against nature. I always pray that what I have done is enough.

  11. I believe Sheila has found her calling. Mad Dog might be right. I will think warm thoughts for the piglets. More straw!

  12. You ladies in other parts of the country are such a help to me this morning here in California, where I am worrying my plants may suffer from 29° last night. I covered them, but don’t have much practice at that because it’s scarcely ever needed. So, this morning when I go out to feed and water I won’t be feeling sorry for myself, I’ll be thinking about all of you who have REAL weather problems, and hoping you and your animals will all be safe and well.

    • I hope covering your veges helped – hopefully – cold is all relative too – I am used to this kind of cold now but when i first got here I thought I was dying! c

  13. Snow covered ice, high winds and 26 in not so sunny New Mexico. I’ve seen Sheila and she is Hugh!
    I’d do what she says too. But she loves her Miss C.

  14. Ha! That’s wonderful, about Sheila and her herd. I got a real chuckle out of that one.
    Well, temps not so bad here today, just a smidgeon under the freezing point, but tomorrow and Monday are scheduled to be miserably cold again. What is surprising here is the amount of snow we’ve had. Seems like daily we’re getting dumped on and it’s still relatively early in the season. Most Decembers we are worrying that we won’t have a white Christmas and that’s not a concern at all this year.
    I am always amazed that farm animals survive the winter without heat, but I see now that that doesn’t happen without a lot of concern on the part of their caregivers. Hope things soon moderate for you all, and that you have a great day too! ~ Mame 🙂

  15. Having not experienced extreme cold to me seems daunting but our climates sre very different and you & they cope each year. I’ve experienced snow, just a little, once! So I marvel at the snowy landscape. Here in my part of the southern hemisphere it is summery Christmas weather. We have put out no tree or decorations this year as we’ll spend a few days away with family but thanks to the -currently anyway- cooperative weather the lead-up feels like Christmas should.

  16. Is it Tia with the reddish rimmed ears and top knot? She reminds me of a lady I saw in town this week who had some bright red blotches of hair colour splashed around her head!! The calf looks very ‘on trend’. I’m trying my best to send you some of the excess warmth we are having… xx

  17. Hi Celi

    I think Mad’s thermometer idea is great because that’ll allow you to get a good nights sleep as well as the piglets!

    I dont have much experience with pigs and cold but everything I have read about growing out pigs says they need more food when its cold as they use up precious enrgy staying warm which makes sense. So I wonder if you can feed the two small ones separately so they get their fair share and put on a bit more weight? I routinely have to split my growers up at feed time to have em all come out even weight at the end. It only takes a couple of attempts at separation as the smaller ones tend to get pushed off first anyway so will follow you while the others are hogging it and the hogs never catch on cos they are, er, pigs and just stuff their faces into whats in front of them at the time (deep piggie psychology at work here!).

    Its the opposite here, hot and humid from sun up. My sheds get the morning sun and although I spent an inordinate amount of time up a ladder putting up shade cloth it does not seem to be working very well, proabably for the same reasons your heater system doesnt work as well as it should, i.e. if I put it any lower it would get chewed They go out and graze early in the morning as the padddocks have shade but they prefer to wallow, I can hear them up there now, it sounds like they are doing laps with all the splashing but there’s not that much room. They are like chickens who all like to lay in the one box, they are not happy unless they are all squished in together and that takes a bit of arranging hence the splashng as they rearrange limbs and dig in deeper to get their fair share of the nice cool mud.

    • Good tip about the separating at feed time – today I noticed how different they are I have two or three huge ones and a couple three smaller ones, I feed them in many bowls but you are right I will separate them properly tomorrow – they go to bed with a big bowl of food (which is now under the heat lamp near their door) so there is food for most of the night. I love watching pigs in mud! c

  18. Freezing here, too, last night, and wouldn’t you know the little electric heater in my office quit! The only other source of heat in this old rambling house is a pellet stove in the living room, two rooms away. Took a warm shower and a nose-dive into bed, I did! This a.m., we found one of the girls had laid an egg…the first in weeks, ever since some varmint ripped the roof off and killed 2/3 of our ladies. We’ve put a new roof on, beefed up the hen house, but they still won’t go in to roost. Any suggestions?

    PS – bought a new heater for the back end of the house as it is promised by the weatherman that it will get colder here in the mountains!

      • Thanks – winter time is good for locking them in. We’ll give ‘er a try. Have a warming bulb in there, too, to keep them from smothering each other in the extreme cold. – Sunny

  19. I can just picture the calves dancing to Sheila’s tune. When I throw scraps over the fence the goats and chickens race to grab some until Percy ponderously strolls up and everyone else scatters. I, too, worry when it’s this cold though to date everone’s been fine (knock wood). The only ones with a heat lamp are the 6 chickens in a small coop. I am absolutely dreading tomorrow. We have gotten close to a foot of snow since last night and now the north wind has cranked up and is howling. Tomorrow’s high is predicted to be -2F, wind chill at -30 and that’s when we will have to do the clean up. I would go out tonight yet but with the wind drifting all that snow it would hardly pay. It will be my John in a skid steer without an enclosed cab and myself wielding a shovel and the walk behind snow blower, not fun at all – 29 weeks til summer!

  20. Poor piggies, I’m sure you’ve done as much as you can for them in the cold. They probably like to snuggle in the hay too.

  21. I like that picture of Sheila with her calves. She has a nice smile. Best of luck in your battle against the elements. Soon winter solstice will start us on the path of longer, warmer days. Slow and steady.

  22. I worry about all of you in that cold. I suppose farm animals, to some extent, are made for this, but still…I say clown suits for EVERYONE!

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