Nobody Ever Said Winter Was Fun


We really didn’t have winter here until around the end of January when we got that foot and a half of snow. Snow always sounds so magical. Until it snows.
It’s been snowing again this week, but at least it’s not that quantity. Just daily dustings, enough to keep the roads slick and make repeat daily trips to the barn an uncomfortable and non-magical experience.
Between the snow and the very low (below freezing) temperatures here, it’s been busy and exhausting. I’m bottle feeding Cherry, in an effort to get more milk from Bella. It’s not easy to get an older baby to take a bottle after they’ve been mama-raised.
From morning till night, I’m down at the barn giving Cherry her involuntary bottle. I’m hoping it will be voluntary sometime soon. On the upside, at least Bella is now voluntarily jumping up to her goat stand. This is a big improvement over having to lovingly coax (ha) her there on a leash, and makes the long cold days feel a little shorter.

Except for yesterday, but that wasn’t Bella’s fault. Mostly.

Yesterday seemed like the worst day in the world and like it would never end. And that, most certainly, spring will never arrive. After numerous trips to the barn already–working with Bella and Cherry and checking the chicken house for eggs (which have to be picked up quickly in these temps or they’ll freeze and break)–it was time for evening chores. I like evening chores best because then I have help, but this round of evening chores was starting with a task I wasn’t looking forward to. We had to put down George. We’d gotten pretty attached to George. He was our “Ferdinand the Bull” daisy-picking rooster who was getting beat on by the other roosters in the chicken house. We took George out and made a pet of him, hoping to rehabilitate him.
He hung out in the barn yard with the ducks, and knew he was special. He would see Rodney’s truck come up the driveway in the evenings and come running for his special treats. When it got cold, he’d go in a stall in the barn at night with the ducks or goats. He was having problems with his legs ever since the roosters had ganged up on him, and suddenly started going downhill recently. He couldn’t or wouldn’t walk anymore. (Not sure what was wrong–nothing seemed to be broken.) He started using his wings to walk, flopping around on them, which was tearing them up. We took him to the cellar and he’s spent the past week there, in the warmth of the gas stove, with food and water brought to him so he wouldn’t flop around too much on his wings. But he continued to go downhill, and we finally decided it was time to not let him suffer anymore. So, on what seemed like the longest evening round of chores ever, we had to say goodbye to George. That sucked.

Then we got hay for everybody and moved the cows. We checked for eggs. We fed Cherry her bottle. We gave a shot to Annie, who wasn’t seeming like her usual self. We milked Bella. Then Bella escaped out under the barn through the hole the ducks use to come in and take the spills off Glory Bee’s feed tray in her milkstand. Didn’t think Bella could get through that hole! Turns out, she can! She was probably looking for Cherry, who she knows is in the barn somewhere. We recaptured Bella. Got the ducks put up for the night. Settled all the goats where they needed to be for the night. Checked for eggs again.

Supper had been warming in the oven all the while, and we finally went in the house. Then I laid down on the couch in front of the wood stove and collapsed.

That’s winter for ya. Now I remember why I mostly don’t like it!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 11, 2016  

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17 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 2-11

    Just tell us he wasn’t dinner.

  2. 2-11

    Wow, hard day, for sure! Is that Coco in the first pic? I miss hearing about the dogs and cats.

  3. 2-11

    Sorry about George. :cry:

  4. 2-11

    No, he wasn’t dinner!

  5. 2-11

    The one lesson I’ve learned is that the chickens and rooster usually know the end is near and start ganging up on the one that is ill or slowing down. But I still don’t like it.

    Sorry about George. :cry:

  6. 2-11

    I’ve been here, just over a year…it’s been a year and three weeks. So, that being said, obviously, I didn’t spend the whole winter here last year. Only the last week of January and then February into March when spring started springing. This year, I have been here the WHOLE time. Can I just say, “I hate it?” We don’t even get snow! It snowed for like fifteen minutes one day! It freezes, but no snow covering the ground, nothing like that. I hate it! I want to go back home where I was spoiled for winters. Central Coast of California, where weather really never happens. All that and I am very homesick and lonely here.
    BTW. I can’t leave. I have two goats that are going to have kids in a month or two. I don’t even know! I’m just watching them closely when I go out to feed them to see if I can see any signs of impending births.
    Sorry, I’m so negative Nelly.

  7. 2-11

    Sorry about George. :( Winter can be hard, but at least it’s been pretty mild up till now. Spring brings rain or slushy snow, and lots of mud. I used to call May the dirty month because it’s when my Great Pyrenees changed colors from white to brown!

  8. 2-12

    Claudia, I totally understand. Winter can be so incredibly hard on a farm. Some days are too difficult to keep your spirits up and remember why you’re there and why you love it. It’s normal to have down days and hate it and just want to cry, so let yourself. For me, that usually means I feel a lot better the next day. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other until there’s green grass under them again.

  9. 2-12

    No vet for George?

  10. 2-12

    I am so sorry to hear about George, it i always hard to say goodbye to our pet be it if they live in the barn yard or in the farm house. I am sure everything that could be done for him was done as we read in your previous posts. Winter has been very brutal this year, it is so very cold her with wind chills in the double digits below zero, I worry about the animals everywhere, I hope these temps leave us soon,but it sound like we are in for another Artic blast starting Sunday bringing us snow and very cold weather until about Thursday.It seems like February is always a very cold month,this year is certainly no exception.

  11. 2-12

    So sorry to hear about George. It’s always hard for me when we lose a chicken or have to put one down, no matter how much more experienced I get. I have an old lady hen “Loud Mouth” who no longer lays, but is still a part of my flock. She hates the cold, and I worry about her with the -7 low we will see tomorrow night. The coop is snug, but her bones are old. Thank you for writing from the heart, even about the hard stuff. It is good to paint a realistic picture for anyone dreaming of having their own farm and animals. Sometimes, the days are glorious. Sometimes, they are just damn hard.


  12. 2-12

    Sad news about George. It is so hard to have to put an animal down, even when you know it is for their best, but George had a good home with you both during his short life.

  13. 2-12

    I’m very sorry about George. But I really have what seems to be a stupid question. How do you “put down” a chicken that’s more of a pet than a meal? I have 3 chickens myself, and worry about a day one is sick to the point that I know she’s suffering and should be put down. I can’t imagine having to take an ax to her neck like I saw my mom do to our butchering chickens. If the situation arose, I figured I’d call one of the local vets to see if they would euthanize them. But is there a humane “farm way” to put one down?
    ~Amy in WI

  14. 2-12

    Chopping off a chicken’s neck is a very fast death.

  15. 2-12

    Sorry about George. That was my Daddy’s name. Would love to see a few more dog and cat photos. I’m assuming that was Coco or Chloe above. Hows the little house dog doing? I can’t remember her name. Thanks for posting about the animals. I love to see those posts, since you don’t have kids around to post about any more.

  16. 2-12

    That’s Coco in the pic!

  17. 2-12

    Thanks Suzanne! I’ll have to find someone with much better aim then my mom had! Between watching her having to take a couple swings of the ax to then making sure the headless chickens didn’t get under the car, it’s a wonder I’m not a vegetarian! :lol:

    ~Amy in WI

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