At this temperature, no one really cares what the number is. It's freakin' cold! The snow feels and sounds crunchy, sometimes almost squeaky. You want to stay inside and drink hot cocoa all day around a fire place with logs roaring and shedding wonderful, glorious heat. Most of us can't do that. You know, things like work intrude - and taking care of the livestock.
I say livestock as a general term. Mostly I would consider that cattle or horses - the large animals. We've got chickens and rabbits, dogs and cats. No matter what kind of animal you have, you have to take care of them. At the moments, the cats can't go outside and the dogs are being limited. Even Sadie our Pyrenees cross was lifting her feet this morning and that breed is bred to live in the mountains year round! She is currently curled up on the couch. Chester, currently curled up on our bed with Troy has been wearing booties (see picture at right). I am hoping to sew a coat for him this weekend because he just doesn't have the body mass or any undercoat to protect him from this deep cold.
It's important - and by important I mean life-saving - to wear the proper clothing and to be prepared. Sure you could wear your jeans and a sweater. It might not even hurt very much if it's for a few seconds. Consider this, though, your jeans are likely to become cardboard stiff while you are walking in them and your legs will not want to touch them. I still remember walking to school in Winnipeg on days like this trying to avoid having my skin come up against my freezing clothes. When Mom told us to wear proper clothes, as teenagers our response was along the lines of Phht, what does she know?! Turns out yet again that Mom was right.
We have heavy winter coats and ski pants. I haven't needed my long johns yet but they really are a God-send. I've got mittens that I think I will have to replace for something better. My fingers got cold yesterday with these ones. Hats, toques, and bella-clavas are also essential, as well as the right foot-wear. If you travel, you need all of these things with you in case the vehicle breaks down or you're stuck in place for some reason. Take some food, water, candles and a lighter or matches, too, as well as a tin or something to contain the candle and flame. If you are stuck and the vehicle isn't running, those candles actually shed a fair bit of warmth.
I am happy and very relieved to report that the chickens and rabbits seem to be just fine in this. I think they might be a bit bored but it's better than being dead, I figure. The pens that Troy built have been working out so well. Lots of ventilation but we've been able to close them in, too, using blankets and boards to retain the heat inside. We are still getting an egg a day from the 4 hens so I figure that's a good sign. From what I've read, if the hens get cold, they will expend energy to stay warm and not lay eggs. I guess they're good. Even the chicks, now nearly 3 months old seem pretty good. Last night, one of them was curled up under the roost that Troy built. Silly chick. I lifted her (I hope it's a her!) on TOP of the 2x6 and she was still there later, all puffed up with her feet underneath her breast.
Our water lines froze the other day. We were surprised because they've got heat tape on them. They were installed by the contractor and it turns out he must have been having a moment when he put the tape in. There's a temperature sensor that turns on when it gets cold but the sensors are actually inside our home. Where it's warm. Troy (my hero once again!!) figured it out and fixed everything and got the water running. Seems that maybe during the fussing to get it going though, we pinched the tape or something because the one line is frozen again. It's fixable but it's outside work, although it's at least underneath our home and somewhat protected, and it's cold outside!
That's the current snapshot of our life out here. It's cold but we are warm, our animals are doing well and while we have water that is currently not running, we do have a nearby source and the hoses will be working soon enough. Oh, and our furnace got hooked up this fall so we are actually pretty toasty inside. It's a sunny day, too, and that just makes everything so much better.
When Pets are Bored
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The dogs and cats have been inside a lot more than normal lately because of the cold. They are getting bored and have resorted to curling up together and also playing with each other. I guess you could say it's been good for their relationships!
I took this video a couple of days ago of Sadie playing with Oliver. Oliver is the kitten we found at the beginning of November. I say 'we found' but it was Sadie who wouldn't let me leave without finding him and bringing him home. Oliver is the bane of Chester's existence and our Tabby cat, Stanley, wasn't so thrilled at first, either. Oliver is always moving and likes to chase the other animals and they don't like it. Sadie is well over a hundred pounds and I'd estimate Oliver is maybe, maybe! 5 lbs. He nearly fits in her mouth, as you'll see in the video.
In addition to the boredom being a relationship builder, I think the cold has also helped the animals bond. I caught Oliver curled up with Stanley on my filing cabinet the other day; a first!