This winter has been harsh. We’ve already dipped below -20C a handful of times before the start of the new year.
Its Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 530 pm and I just brought the horse into the barn because it started to rain. Not just rain, freezing rain. The weather for the next three days is suppose to be cold and windy. Dangerously windy and that makes me worry about the animals. I probably worry too much, says my Alberta friends who deal with sub zero temperatures all the time.
There are a few keys to keeping livestock healthy durning the winter. The first is plenty of hay. Horses have an internal furnace and when stocked well it will keep them warm as long as they have water too. The second important thing is shelter. They need to be out of the bitter wind. If these things aren’t achieved they will lose weight and freeze to death. I hate to think of my horses even mildly uncomfortable, yet along struggling for their lives against the weather.
There is nothing worse than being wet and cold, so my horses have an extensive wardrobe to keep them dry and warm. Our little blind pony Splash is struggling with the cold this year and we found her shivering at a mere -4C on a dry night, so her wardrobe has been greatly expanded thanks to the donations from friends.
Horses love to be outside, wandering and forging for food. They are nomadic animals and I hate to curb this natural urge when the weather is so uncooperative. I know being cold really bothers our blind pony Splash. She is often excluded from the shelter by the sighted horses. I believe she’s afraid to be caught in a small space with her equine friends, so she sports her turnout winter coat with great purpose.
Over the next few days the horses will be in their stalls most of the time which makes them unhappy and is an incredible increase in our work load. I always make sure my horses are housed in clean stalls with fresh bedding, so the next few days are going to be challenging. Thankfully, I was able to purchase heated buckets to make sure the horses don’t get sick from colic, as many do when without water during the deep freeze.
Tonight I can relax with the horses, goat, pigs and duck tucked safely into the barn with heated water buckets and plenty of hay. Gus is napping in the kitchen and the puppies are playing with toys and sneaking snacks, so I feel good. For tonight. As long as the Green Bay Packers with the wild card playoff game.