We’ve reached the end of the week, and this time, were in the grip of some really cold weather. The thermometer at my house was at 18 degrees when I got up Sunday morning, and Saturday morning was even colder. These are pretty normal winter temperatures around these parts, but conditions don’t usually get this wintery until some time in January. The forecast of cold weather turned the last week into something of a mad scramble to get the farm ready for winter in a hurry, making what is usually the work of several weeks into a hurried few days. The layers moved into their winter houses at both farms, the sheep have come in off the pastures and their indoor space is setup, the ducks are in their winter pen, and the dairy cows have been spending cold nights in their little free-stalls in the back of the dairy barn. We had plans to renew and reconfigure those stalls this fall, but we just put down a lot of straw and they’ve been working okay for this cold stretch. We did move a large stock trailer out to the turkey’s area, bed it deeply with straw, and herd everyone inside for Friday and Saturday nights. We raise turkeys every year, but we have never had them on the farm
with temperatures forecast to be down near ten degrees. We have no winter housing for the turkeys, since they are always gone by Thanksgiving, so the stock trailer and straw seemed like our best option. They all went into the trailer without too much fuss, and came back out in the morning pretty content after a night of cozy snuggling. The forecast implies that temperatures will moderate quite a bit next week, so I am hopeful we can go out there and fine-tune some of the work that was done quickly this week, and get to a few things that we’re passed over.
The LTF students had another week of draft horses, chainsaws, and timber framing this week, the second of a three week run that gives everyone a week in each of the three areas. This cold weather made the chainsaw and horse work pretty chilly, while the timber framers, in short sleeves in the heated greenhouse, were pretty comfortable. Friday was a super windy day as well, as this cold weather blew in from the northwest, making tree felling extra challenging. The cold weather, and the
smoke coming from our wood fired furnaces turned on in answer to the cold, has also really turned all of our minds to firewood production. We are really eager to get our students out to the firewood yard, using their new chainsaw and horse skills to crank out our yearly supply of firewood. When we have a crew of fifteen, capable of felling, dragging, bucking and splitting firewood, we can really get some work done.
Tyson has been working over the past few weeks to adapt our largest tractor to fit a bale grabber. He got it all put together on Thursday afternoon, and I was able to use the machine on Friday and Saturday to move bales around. Rather than trying to slide our somewhat bent forks under each bale, pick them up and carry them to their spot, and
then trying to slide the forks back out from underneath, I can now pickup each bale with a pair of squeezing arms, carry them around, and put them down. This means we can stack bales, turn them around and over as needed, and do all of it with little risk of tearing their plastic wrapping. The airtight wrapping is the key to keeping these bales fresh and delicious for the cows, so maintaining that integrity is a top priority. Getting set up with a bale grabber on our own tractor is a huge improvement for our farm, and it is going to make the work of the winter much better. We also now have the opportunity to teach this skill to students, and have them out moving bales around, setting up the feeding yard, and expanding their abilities.