Monday, January 13, 2014

Out to the sun

The weather took a turn for the better, with calmer winds and temps in the low thirties for the past few days.  Not warm enough or long enough to melt the glare ice on the yard, but nice enough to tempt the sow herd out and get them started on the silage bales we set out for them.  We like to see the sows having forage in their diets for their good health, but it has been a problem when the pastures aren't available.  This year we set out plastic wrapped grass/alfalfa wet bales and they are really tearing into it.  They like the silage smell I think.  We know it's good for them.  Improves their temperament too, and makes them easier to work with.  That's good for us as well.


Monday, January 6, 2014

winter weather

Winter descended savagely on Sunday.  Temps dropped to -15 the night before and struggled to get to a positive reading on Sunday.  Winds came up out of the northwest, perhaps 20mph.  Temps fell to -25 last night and today predictions are for winds to rise to 25 or 30 mph, temps to stay below zero today and drop to -25 tonight.  The governor has called school off statewide because it is too dangerous, which shows him to be somewhat more sane than many other people, who persist in believing their cars can be depended upon in this weather.  Any farmer knows better. 

The yard is glare ice on top of partially melted snow.  It is dangerous to walk on.  Today the ice cleats go back on the shoes.  In this kind of weather, I question my own sanity for keeping livestock.  The cattle who are on unlimited high quality hay are doing all right behind their windbreak.  The market hogs are reasonably comfortable in their hoops, though they don't gain well because they don't care to get out of bed to get to the feeder.  The younger animals, for which we have adapted the old farrowing quarters are doing ok, as are the sows and litters in the farrowing quarters, but both of these are benefiting from a huge drain on the gas and oil fuel supply.  The heaters run constantly, and very many more days like this will see the end of whatever profit there was in the livestock.  Petroleum is expensive.  We are burning through the bedding as well, trying to keep animals comfortable.

The gestating sows are a difficult problem.  We got the drinkers moved out of their hoops last summer, improving conditions for them considerably by reducing the wet bedding problem.  But they are still not cozy, their numbers are not high enough to provide the body heat necessary for comfort in unheated quarters.  We still need to modify things for them.

And the farmers?  Impossible to drink enough water to stay properly hydrated.  Impossible to stay awake in the evenings.  Difficult to wake up in the morning.  Difficult to stay upright working outdoors.  Machines break down.  Hoping we don't find a heater broke down when we check at 3 o'clock in the morning. Mounting frustration.  Waiting and hoping for a weather change.  And for the return of optimism.