Winter watering challenges

Have you every thought about watering animals in sub zero temperatures? Most people don’t. Unless, of course you live where winter is 5 months out of the year. Here’s how we do it.

Floating water heater

We are below freezing everyday now so summer water troughs freeze solid. You can get floating and submersible water heaters and we do use one. I think that is the usual solution for most farm people here. We took it a step further and hubby built an insulated water trough out of a plastic storage bin. Last winter, with just one calf drinking from it, we kept it full by carrying 2 five gallon pails of water every few days. This winter, that one calf is a yearling and we have a milk cow. Milk cows drink a lot of water! The trough is emptied daily by these two. How to keep the trough full? (not hauling 2 five gallon pails 3 times a day!) Hubby built a sled for it so we can slide it to the barn, fill it up and slide it back. This we do everyday. A lot of work but a solution until we come up with something better.

Insulated water trough on a sled

We had a really cold night already this week. It dipped to -30C (-22F). Inside the barn kept quite warm but during the day while Happy was outside, it cooled down to the point that there was ice on the water bowls and the lines were frozen. Now, the decision is made, do we drain the waterlines and haul buckets of water to the cows? Or do we install a heater and keep the barn warm? Already filling the outside water trough daily, you can guess which option we chose.

Water bowl in the far corner

I already have a heater in the chicken part of the barn to keep the waterline from freezing. We opened the door between the two areas to help keep them both warm. Not too warm, just warm enough. We blocked the doorway so the chickens and ducks stay where they belong but air can flow.

How do you water your animals when it’s freezing out?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday blog hop hosted by GNOWFGLINS, Sustainable Eats, Culinary Bliss, and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

Barn shoes

In the morning
When the dawn is cold and grey
It’s time to do the chores,
Time to start my day

I put on my old barn shoes
Once shiny and new
Now only a shadow
Well worn, and held with glue

We’ve walked a lot of miles
Stepped in places I dare not say
They’ve been a comfort
In work and in play

But the time has come to go,
They’ve walked their final trail
For I’ve found myself another
And I couldn’t pass up the sale!







Hay shed/cow shelter

Here’s some pictures of the hay shed/cow shelter we built.  We made it with posts in the ground, there is no floor.  On the hay side we put down pallets to keep the bales off the ground.  The hay hasn’t come yet and the cows haven’t moved in.  First we have to finish stringing barbed wire around the pasture this shed is in, then we can move them in.  The blue drum is for their grain ration.

The big doors on the hay side allow for easy access of unloading bales into the shed.  The smaller doors on the cow side are split so I can have just the top open for air and light if I want.  The idea is to only close them up in severe weather and at night to protect them from preditors until they get big enough that it is less of a concern.

Hubby and son did most of the work.  I think they did an awesome job!  I helped with the shingling, safely on a ladder.  I wasn’t climbing on the roof! 😯  I did the painting too. 🙂  As you can see, I like traditional colours and style. 😉

Painted barn

The barn needs more work but it will have to wait until next year.  I couldn’t stand looking at a faded red/ purple barn one more winter! 

Before painting


After painting

The barn roof

This was a big job hubby and the boys took on. They did the east side of the roof first, then they did the west side,which was more entailed. They replaced the exterior wall and some of the plywood on the roof, put in new roof vents, layed tar paper, then the shingles. It wasn’t a weekend job, that’s for sure! Some days it was impossible to be up there, even though the weather was nice, because of the wind. If they worked in spite of the wind, they couldn’t get as much done. Fighting the wind was exhausting. The roof is done finally, but there’s still more to do. The exterior plywood walls need a finish.  Not to mention the umpteen other jobs that need to be done before the snow comes.  The weather this week is suppose to be beautiful so I’m hoping we’ll get lots done.

The pig pen

Pig pen under construction

One of the projects we’ve been working on is revamping the pig pen in the barn.  This space was used for pigs about 10 years ago but not since.  It became a storage area.  We are converting 2 pens into one, pulling up the wood floor and replacing it with concrete and making it so the pigs can go outside.  The door was pre-existing as a loading door, so we’d like to still be able to keep it for loading/unloading pigs from the trailer but also allow them to access the outside through the same door.  Well, that’s our idea to make it dual purpose.  We’ll see if it works. 🙂  I like to keep areas around the farm ‘multi-purpose’, so if we want to use this pen for a different animal, it wouldn’t involve reconstruction.

We’ve been wanting to do this project for a few years.  I’d really like to get it done in time to get a couple pigs this spring, but we’ll see how it goes.  With all the other projects, there’s lots to do.  At least we got a start!

High winds

Barn roofing ripped off

We’ve been busy with several projects around the farm. Hubby had 2 weeks off work so we got a good start on a few of them. That’s also the reason I haven’t been blogging much lately. We got some high winds the other night that added another project to our to-do list. All night we listened to the winds howl and rage. When the day dawned we could see that a good section of the roofing on the barn was gone. The tar paper is still on except for a small piece at the top. I hope the rain holds off until the weekend when the boys can fix it. I’m glad that is all the damage that was done. It’s been extremely dry and there have been a lot of grass fires in the area.  It’s still very windy.

The barn roof





The north side of the barn got a new roof this weekend.  This is the side I keep the layers.  I especially like the porch my hubby and son built on for me.  🙂  It’s a place to keep the feed out of the rain and snow.  And it keeps rain off the door!