Winter Water

Operation Dry Hay Storage: We’ve been working on repairing the two roofs where we store the hay so they no longer leaking which completes operation dry hay storage. Most of the summer and fall was spent on these two major projects. I’m sick of the sticky smell of tar.

With the winter hay safely stored in a dry place its time for the more challenging issue of winter water. It’s a constant struggle to provide unfrozen water over the winter.

Once the pump is brought in for winter I have to carry buckets of water from the house to the barn twice a day for the pigs and ducks.  I use a heavy metal bucket the pigs have a hard time flipping over and a heater to keep the water from freezing. One year I bought a heated bucket, but the element melted the plastic bucket and I was afraid it could have burned down the barn. Now I use metal or rubber. No more plastic.

I’m never sure if they’ll be water when I go out in the morning. I never know if I’m going to need an extra ten minutes before work to chip out the ice and then bring out two more buckets of water from the house. The pigs tend to be pretty thirsty after going all night without a sippy cup full of water. Winter is a tough on the animals.

With only their fat to keep them warm pigs bulk up for winter. I’ve had many people mention that my pigs look extra big this fall and I’m starting to wonder: Is this going to be a particularly harsh winter? They don’t mind the snow or the rain, it’s the bone chilling cold that tends to get to the pigs, at least that’s what I think as I watch them playing in the white stuff.

The ducks will miss the water over the winter. They’ll miss playing in it and washing in it. Nothing but dirt baths until spring. No wonder they get stinky. The ducks are hardier than the pigs with their constant down filled winter coats. It’s just above freezing today and they’re playing in the last flood of water. The pump comes in today.

The horse is a different story. Last year we dug a deep trench and laid some water pipe that runs from the water source to the water trough. There’s a submersible pump in the source that goes to a winter hydrant that shuts the water off below the frost line. 

Last year we used an extension cord to power the pump from an outlet at the house. Sometimes the hydrant would get clogged and we’d have dig down and unclog the small drain in order to get it to work. It would work great for weeks and then one day – nothing.

It’s a constant battle to keep water fresh and unfrozen. We use an electric water de-icer in the metal horse trough. Last year we had trouble with the power source because the de-icer wants to be plugged directly into the outlet, not an extension cord.

This year, with many thanks to our friend Chuck, we have power! The pump is plugged into an outlet beside the trough as is the de-icer. We’ve got our fingers crossed for winter water success this year!

Each year it gets easier and easier as we put plans into place to help us survive the deepest cold of winter and hottest hots of summer. I’ve often thought of moving to a more temperate climate. North Carolina seems like a nice place.

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