Thursday, 16 January 2014

Winter Blues (and Greys and Whites): A Compilation of Complaints

I’ve always loved summer: blue skies, green grass, cottaging, riding and most importantly the sun. I don’t mind the heat and humidity of July one bit.  I will never complain about nice weather. Interestingly, though, as much as I’ve always disliked winter I haven’t minded this winter as much as my facebook friends, neighbours, coworkers and parents have. It seems like all anyone can talk about is the weather. We've even named it the "polar vortex". As crazy as the weather has been (snow storms, ice storms, power outages, freezing rain and hail) I’d prefer a “real” winter to a melty, slushy, muddy and mild one. I like the look of white fluffy snow outside of my window a lot more than a big mud pit.

Harley loving the fresh snow (pre-icestorm!)

Our backyard pre-ice storm... lovely white snow!

Despite all this positive thinking the wintry weather does have downfalls around the house. The chickens have been in the coop for about two months now. They are extremely bored and are starting to get aggitated. My girls LOVE being outside. When they seem me coming down the hill in the morning they RUN to the door. There's always drama over who gets to come outside first. Needless to say, they are not enjoying being "cooped up" ....;) (pardon the pun - I had to!). With temperatures dropping to -40 degrees celcius in early January it just seemed too cold to me. (That and the fact that the door to their outdoor area is frozen shut). I've been trying to keep them occupied and content; every morning I bring them fresh produce to munch on (in addition to their regular feed which they have been going through a TON of). Despite the fact tat the coop is well insulated and has an excellent heat source the water kept freezing on us so we had to invest in a heated water bowl for them. It works but it's messier and holds less water than their regular waterer so I've had to refreshing their water two or three times a day. (I'm not complaining because clean water is a right all animals have - it's just more work than our other system). Brad installed pipes down to the coop in the fall so that in the spring we can have fresh running water right to our coop! I can't wait!

The girls after the first snowfall in November

Our yard is completely frozen. You could literally skate on it. In fact i've driven by kids playing hockey on their front lawns. I've fallen twice; the first time I dumped the bucket of water I was carrying all over myself and the second was last night and luckily I wasn't carrying anything but my takeout which survived the fall! Poor Harley can barely walk around she's taken to doing this little jog that seems to give her more traction. Unlike a normal winter no one seems to be having any luck chipping away at the ice and everytime it does warm up a bit its followed by more rain, snow or ice!

Riding has been off the table in the cold weather too. Thankfully this week has been milder which has been nice for the horses and riders! The horses that are boarded inside at our barn have been living inside 24/7 due to the icy conditions. Our barn owner has asked people to come out as much as possible to exercise them for the horses health and safety. Boomer lives outside and I can't say he's any better off! Although they spread manure over the outdoor paddock to create footing its still trecherous. On the bitterly cold nights and days of freezing rain the outdoor horses were brought in but otherwise they don't seem to mind being out in the actual weather conditions - its the footing that is the danger! I once read an article that said despite our human-logic horses prefer winter to summer; you'll see a horse standing out leaning in to a cold winter wind far more often than you'll see one doing that in the summer. It was an interesting and informative read about keeping horses outside that I wish I had saved so I could link it here. I'll try taking a look for it! The reason Boomer is boarded out is because he HATES being in a stall and will stall walk from morning to night if he has to be inside. He becomes hot, irritable and grumpy when he's kept in for too long which caused a lot of problems for us when we were showing. He likes to be one with nature and I support that... but I worry about him when the weather is as bad as it has been!

Okay, I'll stop complaining. Thanks for comiserating and feel free to share your winter animal keeping woes in the comments!

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