Monday, December 16, 2013

The Chill of Victory, and The Agony of De-Sleet

As Ronald Reagan would say..."Well" (you can click that to get the full effect :) ), we've lived in Texas going on nine years now and one thing I can truly say is that I STILL don't know what "seasonal" or "normal" weather is for our region. Everything in Texas seems like a wild stallion still waiting for that whisperer to tame it. We're still waiting for somebody to answer that whisperer help-wanted ad - I guess we'd better "bump" it. Ten days ago my friend, Debbie, and I, by God's mercy, made it home safely just as the "event" was starting. That evening and overnight about two-plus inches of sleet fell and by morning it had melded into one large sheet of sleet (say that ten times fast). It wasn't snow and it wasn't pure ice, but lighter, yet still pretty slippery. Dave did succumb to gravity a few of times over the course of the next several days but was not injured, thanks to God. I took some pictures of the homestead to share with you all. We weren't able to drive off the land for almost a week due to the dangerous road conditions. And the mud from the sleet is still around in some places ten days later!

You can't see it but our very smart cows discovered that camping out underneath the porch roof was the best place to be. I sure don't blame them! They must be book-smart because they like to hang out by the library windows. :) Dave then had a smart idea of his own and put boards on a couple of the exterior library windows where the cow horns could accidentally break them!

Sleet - View of House


We have some winter wheat planted in our field up there. And some turnips planted in the fenced garden area in the forefront. You'll just have to take my word for it: :)

Sleet - View of Crop Field


We are thankful for the good soaking this moisture represents for our orchard, crops and gardens:

Sleet - View of Orchard


Our goats took refuge in their sheds a good portion of the time. It never made it above freezing for a few days and nights. We brought up a fresh layer of hay for the sheds most nights to cover the "gifts" the goats had left during the day:

Sleet - View of Goat Sheds


Sadly, goats can be very selfish and territorial with those sheds so the low goat on the totem pole can get left out in the wet cold. Our little orphan, Annie, was shivering quite a bit, and since we lost a goat a few years ago to the cold, we have learned to be very vigilant if we see a possible repeat. So, I went to our barn storage and pulled out an old fleece pullover, cut off the arms and put it on her. She seemed much warmer after that. I've read that goats grow a nice, warm undercoat for the winter but Annie still seemed like she couldn't stay warm enough. Nubian goats may not have that undercoat because Shatner, one of our two bucks, which is also the leanest of all our goats, was shivering way too much, as well. I found another big sweater and put it on him. It seemed to help him keep in the heat much better. Once the immune system is over-challenged, this may mean trouble with potential sickness and disease (and possible vet bills!) So if we are able to help stabilize them, we'll do what it takes.

Our Goat Annie's Winter Coat


While I'm milking in the evenings, Dave is putting up all of our chickens for the night. We always seem to have a few "rebels" that like to stay out in the trees. We were hoping any that had stayed the night out had made it through the sub-freezing temps. The next morning, Dave found this rebel hide-out in the shelter of our mulch-carrier.

A Chicken Winter Weather Hideout


It wasn't hard to spot the "rebel" chicken. It was the only one with frozen rain stuck to its feathers :)

Winter Weather Chicken Escapee


Our dogs, Brodey and Nessa, have a nice coat of fur, however Nessa still struggles in the cold and shivers quite a bit. I went online looking for dog coats or patterns and could only find cutesy stuff that would take too long to make or expensive dog coats for sale. Again, to quote Ronald Reagan "Well", my dogs are cold right now! So, I took the handy scissors out again, found a couple of old sweaters out of storage, cut off the arms and put them on. Voila! Instant warmth. I don't much care how they look, I'm all about if they get the job done. I pinned up the part that hung down below the belly (and had to make arrangements for Brodey not to pee on it) but they worked great!! Thank the Lord for the provision to help our animals fare better in this bitter cold, wet weather.

Here is Nessa's "ensemble". As the days and nights got colder, she was still shivering, so I ended up putting a total of three sweaters on her:

Our Dog Nessa's Winter Coat


Brodey ended up doing well with two sweaters:

Our Dog Brodey's Winter Coat


The little geese "pond" froze over, which made our geese very sad :( The rubber ducky is in there somewhere...

Geese Pond Frozen Over


However, even Augie and Gigi didn't seem to want to get out into the stiff north winds, so they hung out under the RV:

Our Geese Augie/Gigi


I had to laugh when I saw this set of geese footprints (sorry, you have to look closely) come out from under the RV and go about ten feet before turning around. It seems this cold snap was enough to make even the geese change their minds and turn around to head back for cover :)

Geese Footprints in the Sleet


We are very grateful for God's merciful hand upon us all throughout this sleet adventure. This is the second heavy-duty cold front we've had so far this Fall and it's not even winter yet! (whispering) "Hey, wild stallion, come over here, I've got some nice apples for you......"

Susan

6 comments:

bayougirl said...

I'm glad to see that ya'll are surviving the cold. I was wondering how you were doing with all the bad weather that has passed through out there. The outfits on the animals reminds me of the time I had to bundle up my dalmation mix dog when she was shivering in some 20 degree North Florida weather. An old child's sweatshirt worked great, but I had to put something on my collie mix, too, even though he wasn't cold. He was jealous of her special treatment and kept attacking her until her got an old sweatshirt of his own :)

May the Lord continue to keep you safe.

Jill P.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the "clothes" on your animals. It is doing the job.

David and Susan Sifford said...

Hello bayougirl!

Thanks very much for your prayers and concern for us. Yes, the Lord has been very gracious to us through the inclement weather. That is a funny story about your dogs. That would be extremely cold for North Florida! Well, that is cold anywhere! :) Thanks for saying Hi!

Anonymous, thank you for your comment! Yes, the sweaters are doing the job needed to stabilize them so they can do well in the cold. May God bless you.

Susan

Judy said...

Oh, those sweaters are funny! I managed not to fall on the ice. After it had started to melt off I was walking on a patch of bare ground where I had thrown ashes (to keep from slipping on the ice.) I thought to myself, "Oh good, the ice is melted," stepped onto the path and went down like a brick. Ashes are great on ice, not so much on waterlogged dirt. On mud they're slicker than what comes out of the south end of a northbound goose.

David and Susan Sifford said...

LOL, Judy, you crack me up. Thanks for the tip on using ashes on ice to gain traction and NOT on mud. I'll try to remember that after we have ashes from our wood burning stove. We're hoping to have that hooked up by next winter, Lord willing. I'm thankful you're okay and were not injured. I think I've lost my footing and fallen more in various situations since we've moved here than in all the rest of my life prior. This life does toughen one up and make one humble at the same time, doesn't it?!

Thanks for making my day :)

Susan

The Barn Swallow said...

Great tip on the ash, here up in the North Country we get fair share of snow and this year ICE!... and we do the sweater thing with our dogs if its too cold in the house.. (the dogs are elderly)