We are in the midst of a pretty solid cold snap. Nights have been below zero Fahrenheit, and some days have passed without the temperature hitting the positive side. When your high is -10F, it’s a challenge to motivate. On the coldest nights, the sheep even forget about their complex social order and just snuggle with anyone available, even a herdmate whom they’d butt away from the feeder under other circumstances. We have blocked off some areas of the barn with haybales to reduce airflow and help maintain warmth.
We are now filling waters by hand with five-gallon buckets. It is too cold to use the hoses, but I am grateful that the frost-free pump has stayed true to its name. Many mornings, the buckets show a solid ring of frost from water evaporation. Some of the ewes like to eat snow on principle- a bit of a slap in the face for the person who slowly hauls 20 or 30 gallons of water into the barn twice a day! All of that schlepping has helped me get the right amount of exercise for my foot, at least.
Since we have quite a bit of snow, I had to clean off the roof of the barn. I use a standard roof rake, but instead of scraping the snow off the roof, I bump the underside of the barn cover. The snow usually slides right off with a whiff-wump sound. The sheep feel that this is terrible, even though they would probably agree that it is in their interests not to have the barn collapse from the weight of the snowload. They wait out in the run area, avoiding the sound and motion.
I am writing this on the morning when our first lamb of the year was born. A healthy little girl who got up and nursed without assistance. We didn’t have to pen them or anything. She’s completely loveable, with classic pink ears. She is a Border Leicester/BFL cross, so I’ll be keen to see how she grows up.