Friday, February 4, 2011

Farm Friend Friday: After the Freeze

Amy over at Verde Farm is starting Farm Friend Friday. I became acquainted with her when we both participated in National Hug a Sheep Day hosted by my friend Sara over at Punkin's Patch at Equinox Farm. I've been looking for something like this to feature our small farm.

She says "Farm Friend Friday will be about: house, cooking, crafting, animals, gardening, photography and more. It will be a great way to meet new farm friends and see lots of different views and perspectives on farm life." How cool is that?

If you've been watching the strange weather (which I call Wonky World Weather) you'll know that Texas has been briefly plunged  back into the Ice Age. Even down here in the semi-arid desert Southwest, an hour as the crow (or, in our case, the Cara Cara) flies from Mexico, we had three days solidly frozen at 12 degrees.

 Ribbons of sap being extruded from our Frostweed (Verbesina virginica)

I'm sure to many of you this doesn't sound so terrible as you deal with this every Winter. However, we live three months of the year over 100 degrees, even attaining 117 degrees one day last summer. Truth be told, in our diurnal climate Winter consists of freezing temperatures most nights, and 60 plus degrees each day. You could say Winter only comes at night--the rest of the time we are running around in t-shirts!

The things we call coats most people would probably consider windbreakers. We have been wearing three at a time just to stay warm in this old farmhouse. Built over 70 years ago--before air conditioning was the mode--our house has little insulation and is 50% single pane glass operable windows for catching those breezes.

 This Fall photo gives you an idea how much glass we are talking about.

Fortunately we have a fireplace, because Wednesday our electricity (and thus our heat) went out for the arctic day! Living remotely as we do we are in an electric co-op. Mostly we experience outages from electrical storms that come in more temperate seasons and those don't generally last more than a couple hours, if that.

Farmer Rick took the tractor down to the creek to load kindling, but the icy hill proved too steep for traction and the wood had to be carried armload by armload. While he was laying in firewood, I made the decision to move all the seedlings from the rapidly cooling greenhouse into the living room.

Living room scene on a 12 degree day with no heat.

So, snuggled around the fire with us were four dogs, four cats, one rooster (Junior's been recuperating) and 439 plants! I feel bad that I was unable to bring in the remaining 49 chickens who usually stay warm with heat lamps, but that would have been total chaos. Unfortunately several of our roosters in Coop Two appear to have suffered some frostbite. (This morning it's looking a little better--fingers crossed).

Marco Marans showing some frostbite on the tips of his comb.

Finley the sheep is lame in a foreleg. I suspect he's been watching me break his trough ice with the sledgehammer and has perhaps tried this himself.

But I don't like snow cones!

Amazingly our lettuce which had been covered with clear plastic withstood the ordeal.

Butterhead lettuce makes it through!

I'm sure there were some losses among our honeybees, but the good news is today it's warmed above 50 degrees and the girls are coming and going from both hives and doing housekeeping.

Workers carrying out the dead after three days of freezing temperatures.

What is this object you say? Why it's a frozen cylinder of coffee grounds! No, no, we don't drink that much. We are fortunate enough to have connected with a local coffee shop and are able to compost all their grounds!

Cafe glace!

It's time to take advantage of the sun and get outside to cut back the asparagus. The first spears were already peeking through this time last year. (I hope they held off). We'll be looking forward to eating it soon!

For more farm fun visit Farm Friend Friday. (Say that ten times!)


Verde Farm said...

Oh my goodness, you have really gotten the low temps. That sap is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen...strange and cool. Glad your lettuce made it through. Poor chickens, I know how tough these temps are on them. I am so happy you joined up for Farm Friend Friday. I am leaving it up through the weekend and think we will continue to have visitors. Please join every or any Friday and invite your farm life friends. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.
Amy :)

Kritter Keeper at Farm Tails said...

hi there, i just found you from verde's farm friend blog hop. those temps were definate culture shock for you all! i read on a chicken blog that putting vaseline on the combs and other areas that tend to freeze on chickens is a good preventer. please feel welcome top hop on over!

Pondside said...

I hope you'll post again next week - I really enjoyed my visit this morning. I too have an agreement with a coffee shop and my garden enjoys the coffee grounds.

Jennifer said...

Poor Chickens... Thats a big thing for you all when your use to not having ice and low temperatures to deal with ...

Anonymous said...

Those big fancy combs are not good in cold weather. My Naughty Rooster Boy lost part of his comb to frostbite last year. Hope you warm up and don't suffer any more losses.

thecrazysheeplady said...

That's about what I was imagining in your house last week. Everything back to "normal" now?

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