Thursday, November 17, 2011

Winter farm pictures

With our first cold snap of the season, we are hunkering down here in the Interior of Alaska. Today is thirty below zero in town. Unfortunately I didn't realize that the thermometer I bought last winter only goes down to twenty below. It has been bottomed out for the last couple days, so I can only guess. We usually have a temperature inversion which results in warmer temperatures in the hills, but sometimes the inversion is slow to kick in, as has been the case this week. Fortunately the kids and I have not had to leave for town all week. We've been keeping the wood stove going non stop and cooking and baking lots of good food.

I took the camera along on my morning chore walk the other day. Starting in the picture above is Rose on the milk stand and her doeling Bramble in the door way. This is a view from the middle of the room, with our new wood stove on the left, entrance on the right, all my goat stuff in the back right, goat stands in the middle, and on the very far right you can see a corner of my grain table, where I mix and doll out grain. This is my milk
setup for this winter. Maybe by next year I'll be in the back of the room, where we have plans for a cement floor with a drain and sinks with plumbing.

Up until just a couple weeks ago I thought all the goats were looking really good. Rose and a couple of the other milkers are starting to look a little thin, as are my bucks. I'm feeding the does more alfalfa and the bucks are getting more grain. Maybe we'll be making some more changes in how we are feeding here soon in an attempt to get everyone looking better.

Blue, one of Zinnia's two doelings.

Avalon, our yearling, looking quite well going into winter- maybe overly plump - who will hopefully be kidding for the first time in April.

Heated duck/goose waterer.

Rosie, our friendly goose in front of her indoor shelter.

Hodgepodge of ducks, that we hatched this spring.

Some of our layers, in the front some new black sexlinks that just started laying, thankfully. The egg drought is over.

Ducks drinking warm water. This is through two fences. On my way up to the chickens I turned around and saw them all running to their water, and turned to get a shot. The heater that is in their water takes up 120 watts of electricity. I haul about three gallons of water up the hill daily for these ten ducks and two geese. Our twenty chickens, on the other hand, go through about three gallons every four days or so. This is one of my biggest complaints about the waterfowl this time of year, just too much water hauling up the hill.

Bucks up the hill.

Looking down at the poultry coop. This started out as a horse hovel. Then after dirt work the ceiling was pretty  high. After selling my horse, we decided to use the pre-existing structure and we turned it into a two story dwelling. The bottom shelter has a dirt floor, is smaller and is better insulated. We are thinking of keeping less waterfowl and instead, keeping chickens on both levels.

Every year, I get bitten with a new bug, the goat bug, chicken bug, turkey then ducks then the geese bug. Some bugs I manage to quell. For I while I was set on raising pigs and that has gone on the wayside. This year I have been looking at rabbits, Nubians, Angoras or Shetland Sheep for fiber and different breeds of chickens. I am just dreaming. I don't think I'm going to allow myself to get into any more species this year, but it is fun to dream. In reality, I'm thinking more bee hives and more chickens, less waterfowl. Keep it simple.


Plain and Joyful Living said...

Oh my goodness. It sure looks like winter there. Your goats don't mind the snow? I am hoping our two will still want to get outside a bit when it turns wintry here.

Lindsey said...

Seeing your ducks hunkering down on the snow in -30 degree weather makes me feel ever so much more at ease about leaving my hens and ducks outside in the rain and wind down here in Washington!

Ashling said...

This may sound silly, but I'm really loving taking a peek into a life very different than ours....because of where you live and the challenges it presents. Thanks for alowing a glmpse!

Dawn said...

Thanks for the great pictures. The life you lead continues to fascinate and inspire.

Emily said...

The goats don't like to walk in deep snow, nor do they like to get snowed on. They do pack down a trail and we feed hay as far away from their stall as possible when it is not too nasty out, so they get a bit of exercise. The ducks are super hardy. I am always amazed that they will come outside and sit in the snow no matter how cold it is. We are shutting them in at night and their shelter has bedding. So they do have a warm dry place to spend their nights.

Our life seems so normal to me. I forget that it is unusual until I read your comments - which I enjoy.

Buttons said...

Emily as always another fascinating look into your life. I think you should write a book about homesteading in Alaska I bet it would be a bestseller. You are an inspiration to many, I don't think you know that. B

Buttons said...

Oh I forgot Happy Thanksgiving. B

PatsyAnne said...

I can't believe how peaceful your life looks - and I say "looks" since I was educated through your blog about how much work there is in your life, year round. Yet deep inside my heart, I wish I was in your place. I always wanted to do what you're doing but I was a single mom who had to work hard just to make sure we had an apartment and the necessities. I wish you Advent joy and blessings - I'm not overly religious but I love Advent - the counting down to Christmas, the anticipation, the candles every evening - the idea that Santa Claus is based on a real person - so in our household until Jenn was about 5, St. Nick was our main man, along with the nativity set bought piece by piece from Woolworths over her baby years - she would lie on the floor and reenact the Christmas story - There wasn't much under the tree but we had so much fun writing Santa letters, baking cookies to give friends, knitting mittens for cold walks on Christmas day - then home to an apartment filled with roasting chicken with stuffing. It was a magical time - I'm seeing some of that in your life and home, and it makes me want to be "young" again. Not to change any of it, for it made us what we are, but to simply relive it - to feel what I felt those Christmas Eve's at Church, the wonder, the love, the innocence.

Emily said...

PatsyAnne, life is peaceful in a busy sort of way. There is a dependable rhythm to each day and season that I am coming to appreciate and rely on. I tried making a nativity scene out of a homemade playdough recipe today -didn't turn out so well. Back to the drawing board. But it did make nice homemade ornaments that the kids cut out, we baked and then painted. I was planning on making and advent wreath, but ended up making a wreath and just putting it on the table with one candle in the middle. I think we'll be making candles soon, so I'm late, but maybe we'll get four candles going on. Thankyou for the comment, I feel as though I am going to be in your place tomorrow, and time is speeding up every day, and all I can do is make the most of each day and try and spend more time with the kids and less time doing things. Take care, Emily

Soul Sista said...

Hi Emily, thank you for your post. We live outside of Wasilla and are getting ducks this spring. I like your duck waterer. Where did you buy it or how did you make it? Thanks for your help.

Emily said...

Soul Sista, I don't know where my husband bought that style of insulated cooler. But it is a short wide insulated cooler that my husband drilled two holes into, one wide enough for duck/goose heads, and one for the cord to come out. We bought the electric heater at the feed store. We've been using the cooler and same heater for at least three winters so far and haven't had to replace either. Best wishes, Emily

Anonymous said...

Emily, You're duck/goose waterer looks awesome. Are you constantly cleaning out the bottom though?