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REALLY rough, LONG day down on the farm...

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As you might have heard...and ONSLAUGHT of WINTER :frozen: has arrived in the CO Rockies. Sheeeesh, what a day.


Last evening the chilly fog rolled in....temperatures plummeted so quickly. Dark overcast so I started feeding at 4pm....and barely finished before it was dark and heading for single digits on the thermometer. Blanketed the older horse [she didn't even fuss about it], gave extra hay for goats and horses. Extra straw bedding for ducks. Even at MINUS four degrees...everyone was fine this morning. We were astonished to see that most of the pond still had open water. There was ice all around the outer edge tho. We'd had about an inch of snow...most of which was falling as I was trying to feed last night.


I never did get bubble wrap taped into our windows ....single pane...need something to insulate!


So this morning it was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS cuz all the trees had heavy frost on each needle. A winter wonderland scene with bright sunny skies. ........AND A COLD, ARCTIC AIR BLOWING ... :frozen:


We'd arranged for a guy to check out the possibility of selling us some 4'x6'x8' loaves of hay. Can't call that size "bales"... :o We've dealt with this before and it's SO much more difficult than the regular bales but he delivered with the cost. Sheeesh, the savings just overrode the HUGE DREAD of dealing with those monster things. You have to pound stakes into the top; adjoined with boards; to try to keep all the huge flakes from puddling into an unmanageable mess. Like slices of a huge bread loaf. VERY HEAVY slices!!! :blink: By the way, our hay shed is merely 10' deep and 8' wide. So if we can't control how the flakes separate and fall, they'll be outside the tarp that acts as the door on the open side. [it's a 3-sided "loafing shed" with a single slant metal roof ] Really a huge mess to work with under our conditions but.....the savings lured us into trying it again. :unsure:


The guy came and assured us we could have TWO of them stacked on top of each other. He has a skid steer loader with a fork on the front. http://www.deere.com/en_US/products/equipment/skid_steers/313/313.page?


But...he's going outta town tomorrow morning and won't be back for a week. We have only one normal bale of hay left for the horses. So he agreed to bring 2 over in a few hours. He's looking at our small hay shed...which I've filled with gardening stuff, and other detritus that didn't fit in the garage. Since we'd been getting hay at a few bales at a time, I'd infiltrated this space. He asked if we can get it clear we assured him we had a plan. Weren't planning to activate that plan TODAY....but opportunity knocks! :amen:


At least it was completely sunny and the wind had all but died out. However, as we worked, a dark embankment of cloud in the north kept sending the odd snowflake or two thru the air. Strange weather.....made us want to hurry. We had to put a new tarp up over the former "Donkey Palace" [made from tubular framework like they use for craft fair booths]. This is between the 2 small loafing sheds which make up the horse shed [which this pair of range-rat horses never go in] and the hay shed. We spent quality time emptying stuff from the hay shed into the middle space which was now covered with a hastily rigged 20X10' brown tarp...and pallets on the ground. That tarp and twine need more work but we really need new bungie cords. It should hold for a while...


NOTE: I ALWAYS KEEP ONE BROWN (heavy duty ...more than the blue) TARP STILL IN THE WRAPPING FOR EMERGENCIES.....SUCH A SITUATION AS THIS! ALWAYS! ....saved our necks today cuz we were NOT expecting to take delivery of the hay immediately. :grinning-smiley-044:


Besides relocating a bunch of stuff and re-constructing the "Donkey Palace" [so named for a certain ornery donkey who couldn't share the horse shed with the horse....and needed her own place] ....but we also had to take out all the pallets from the hay shed, scrape out all the nasty hay detritus and....one vole. I scattered about 10 bushel baskets of dead hay, straw, dirt, stuff while DH was raking it up. We usually let everything dry out for a few days before taking the new season's delivery. No time. We had just finished when hay guy came back. Shoot, we've been working non-stop for hours...and no break.


Wow...I have to say this delivery...insertion of huge hay loaves into small shed went quite nicely. Some anxiety about the loaf breaking open cuz he had to shove them in long-ways. But the twine held and the procedure was done in ten minutes. Paid him and began....wearily....the wrapping up process. Seemed to take forever!


That included placing a large plywood piece in front of the stacked bales to prevent them from flopping out of the shed when we cut the twine. It was supported by a T-post DH pounded in. Also pounded in 3' long spikes [old broom handles, etc] held in place by boards with holes drilled out. Funky way we used before to keep the flakes from peeling off prematurely. Placed tarp over the whole top...cuz snow can be blown inside the shed if it blows hard enough from the wrong direction. Had to put gate and tarp back in place to cover the front of the shed. Had about a million things to do to wrap up.


Now it's getting near 4pm and time to get ducks up/feed/put inside for the night. Also bring horses back to the hay barn pasture [didn't need their supervision during the delivery] ...feed and blanket the 'princess' in anticipation of another below zero night. Brrrr...cold air is giving really a bite to any exposed flesh by now. We're both so fatigued from hours of heavy labor....we're getting cold and uncoordinated. Dog has been napping in my warm van the whole afternoon ....so she's ready for a walk to do her business. And that periodic snowflake? They went back to get their cousins....multiplying. Hurry...hurry!


THEN I notice that the ducks aren't up to greet the food being poured into their feeder. The silly things follow me around anytime I'm in the barnyard .... :unsure: so I look to see why they haven't arrived. ACK! There is no outlet for them to reach the shoreline. Ice is all around and they're swimming and quacking in circles in the middle. Since I'm the one who feeds at night, DH did not realize that he can't let them out if there is no open shoreline. Silly things forget that they came in over the ice and plopped into the water. They ARE quite capable of getting out by maneuvering up onto the ice and walking to shore. .....but they are SO DUMB.


Are you getting the idea that this was becoming a VERY LONG and ARDUOUS day? :0327: This is yet another problem that I've dealt with a few times but DH hadn't seen. I began by trying to whack the ice at a spot that had only 8' of surface ice between shore and open water. I was trying to break up that ice and make them a channel to reach shore. The heavy stick broke and it wasn't long enough anyway. So I went in search for something heavy and long. A long metal pole looked feasible. I whacked exactly TWICE before the durned heavy pole came completely out of my hands. Then I went in search of a rope....cuz the far end of the pole was still sticking up laying on the ice. The near end was in two feet of FRIGID water + mud. Grabbed a ski pole [aka: walking stick] and it helped to place a loop around that end of the pole to draw it out of the water towards us. By this time DH was "helping" but it was beginning to look like keystone cops. So tired...so cold. Succeeded and resumed my whacking. He went to continue other evening chores.


Even with a channel cut that afforded them passage to shore, THE IDIOTS wouldn't come near it. I walked to the opposite side to SHOOOO them ...to no avail. <_< They were not listening! Shaking the feed in the metal bowl did not produce the normal response. Since it was getting colder by the minute, I was afraid my hard-won passage thru the ice was going to refreeze....knitting the broken pieces of ice back together again. So I perched on a slanted piece of cement that is part of a channel of water going under the driveway. I had hold of the wire fence too. With bare fingers I was snatching out each piece of ice and tossing them like a bear tosses salmon from a stream. Eventually, I had their passage clear of even floating pieces of ice....which meant it wouldn't refreeze so easily. :thumbs:


UNFORTUNATELY.....on about the last piece, I slipped. KerSPLOOOOOSH! Right into the frigid water. At a depth of 2 feet, my two feet were instantly soaked. Filled both boots, pant legs, and one sleeve of my coat. I grabbed the metal T-post [part of the fencing so ducks don't get into the underground waterway] to help haul my heavy wet self back up on shore. I nearly left skin on the metal post cuz it was so COLD and my hand was wet. Stuck like your tongue on the flag pole! Aiiieeee!


Ok, if any of you were here for our infamous Wagons Ho story [still available to read in RURR] you might recall some story line about me falling into a creek in dangerously frigid conditions. I did that part of the story cuz I'd already had this happen to me. Once accidentally during a remote winter camping trip and the second time I walked into this very pond to rescue a dying duck. So by this third event, I've learned a thing or two.


---MOVE IMMEDIATELY! Once on shore I sloshed up near to DH's truck which was closer than my van.

---GET OUT OF WET THINGS IMMEDIATELY! I sat down and ripped off both boots and sox. My jeans and nylon overpants were wet but okay for now. The frigid air felt so warm on my bare feet. I hobbled carefully over to the truck and dumped my soggy boots/sox in the back.

---TELL SOMEONE! I hollered to DH [now taking care of horses] ...."I HAVE TO GO UP TO THE HOUSE NOW!" Started the truck ...and heater....and stopped to tell DH what was going on. He needed something from truck and I told him "I went in". Huh? So I wiggled a bare foot at him and repeated it. :o OH!


---GET SOMEPLACE WARM AND GET INTO DRY THINGS.....ASSESS FOR FROSTBITE! I knew my feet were ok...cuz I'd moved fast. I didn't do that during the rescuing duck incident...and could not feel my feet or legs below my knees for ten minutes. Decided I would never take that risk again ...for a duck. This time I just zoomed up to the house and once inside, shed wet pants, coat, and sweatshirt. Stuck one foot at a time into the bathroom sink of warm water.


I had moved fast and after putting on dry sox, shoes, pants ..I was able to resume the night chores. Did the goats while I was up there. Also changed laundry from washer to dryer. Saw DH walking dog. I went down to try for the idiot ducks again while he drove my van up. He was really getting cold ....in the "hypothermia" sense...instead of the "frostbite" sense like me. I'd been inside long enough to warm up and upgrade to a thermal coverall and my warmest sox/boots.


So he went inside and put leftovers in the oven while I spent the last half hour of daylight coaxing the ducks in. He'd laid a 8X8 hunk of lumber into the water for a duck ramp. I sprinkled food pellets onto the ice near the open channel and on the 'duck ramp'. That got their attention. They rediscovered the fine art of getting from water to ice. But ....the idiots wouldn't follow me to the duckhouse for more food. When I'd come near to guide them inland...even with half of them now on shore....they jump back into the water. :gaah: Even the old [still faded color after moulting for new feathers should be done] duck who was shaking with cold, jumped back in. I did this a few times, then changed tactics. I began bombing them with rocks. The BB gun hadn't made enough splash to impress them earlier. Rocks did make them frantic and they swam over to the point of ice that faced the area of shore where EVERYONE KNOWS ducks should use to come in for the night. Creatures of habit....stupid!


But finally, since they'd had that refresher course on duck-climbs-out-of-water-onto-ice....they all performed that maneuver and hustled across the furthest expanse of ice. Happily met me at their food trough. Sheeeeesh...success at last! :amen: That is the LAST SWIM OF THE SEASON for them! The pond is not off limits!



And with that, I was able to return to the warm cabin, wash up, have a warm supper...served in bed. Once I got in bed with heating pad, I told DH my muscles were going so numb, I didn't think I was going to be able to walk. He handed me a plate. :) Wish we had a hot tub or even a bath tub. Shower just isn't like a tub soak. Oye....am I gonna pay for all this work and dousing tomorrow. :wacko:



MtRider ..... :0327: ....stupid ducks! <_< But so glad we got lotsa hay in barn! :hapydancsmil:

Edited by Mt_Rider

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Oh my dear! Drink hot cayenne pepper tea if you can or ginger either should

warm you up inside.

Interesting how your goats survive- was reading of another lady in Colorado

that had one freeze to death last year, and was putting them in the garage

last night to keep them warm. they are small - pygmy I think .


Winter certainly has its hazards.......

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Well, I wasn't really very muscle sore this morning..... :amen: I was really dreading waking.... considering how I felt after I STOPPED last nite. :0327:


It was MINUS 12 at 8AM. Cloudy with light snow. By 11AM it had inched it's way up to MINUS 5. :frozen: Didn't look good for getting out of subzero today. Then the sun came out...small hole in the heavy overcast skies. Temp popped up to +4. :cheer: After an hour, the cloud cover and light snow was back. MINUS 4 again now at 3PM.


I went out to feed with DH this morning. Usually he takes the morning chores but we double up during unusual circumstances like SUB-ZERO.


.....I HATE the hay .... No, it's good hay but dealing with those huge bales is :motz_6::banghead::misc-smiley-231::mad: It feels like you're trying to pick up a soggy wet heavy quilt with two fingers.....and about as effective. When the first few "flakes" clump down, each on top of the other, it's all a mess. You can't get a hold of anything. I fill a bushel basket handful by handful. Just wisps at a time. :gaah: Um....it's sub-zero and trying to hurry here!


I'm so grateful to afford any hay at all. This was definitely the BEST deal. But we WILL pay in energy/time. Going to grab a multi-pronged gardening hand tool to see if I can rake out more at a time than with the hay hook. I can't stand doodling around ....I need to get it done and GO! Hmph!


Anyway, princess horse was wearing her blankie kinda sideways. I think she rolls to try to take it off. They don't go into the shed and she doesn't like the blanket. Range Rats. Forget the doodads and gimme more hay! :rolleyes:


Goats...mine have a shed where they can snuggle up out of wind and snow. They seem to do just fine in HEAT or COLD. Mine are the size of pygmy goats....a cousin breed also out of Africa originally. Nigerian Dwarf. They just want more hay to keep the internal fires stoked.


Ducks :duck 1: were NOT allowed on the pond today. :baseballbat: There is still a fairly large circle in the middle that is open. I've never seen that happen in the couple decades we've been here. It means the temperature change from quite warm water to sub-zero was very fast. ....Ya THINK! <_<


Dog loves the cold and immediately wants to play our special game of ....well, sort of a Calvin and Hobbs version of ice soccer. Involves an empty soda bottle and a lot of sliding around on ice/packed snow. No ice or packed snow yet but we had a sort game anyway before fleeing the cold for the warmth of the roaring pellet stove. :campfire:


I've been simmering a beef/turnip/potato stew. :yum3: Humidity to offset the pellet stove. In an hour, I have to go down to feed by myself tonight. I hate the finality of sub-zero danger. You basically have NO ROOM FOR ERROR. Any mistake can be fatal. And I'm not even sure my van will start....so I may be walking. Not going anywhere NEAR the pond, of course. Hope the horse water heater is working....we plugged it in this morning. I kicked holes in the ice over the creek this morning tho.


Pray for me....as I'm out there with only dog. :pray: Pray for DH as he comes home in this frigid weather....now inches of snow added. Not a lot of snow but it makes driving worse.


Anyone else getting this weather mess yet? If it's coming your way....PREPARE!


MtRider :frozen::pray:

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'Bout this time.....I'm liable to agree with you, Ambergris! I'm back inside with stew bubbling. Koa seriously PULLED me all the way up our long, steep driveway. I didn't bother to try my old van in subzero temps. Wow, she pulled steady and straight. :thumbs::wub: Her body is mostly adult now and can handle giving me propulsion. I just have to keep my feet going. Very pleased that I didn't have to stop and rest....keep going when it's MINUS TEN!!!


MtRider ...always have someone nearby as back up when it's subzero and I'm alone for feeding. :thumbs:

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Mt Rider, have you tried a pitch fork for the hay. We have a 3 pronged one that is an antique, belonged to Dh's great grandfather, and it is invaluable for the kind of thing you are facing with those huge flakes. Leverage and prongs! I am sure a tractor supply place would have a modern version, too useful an item for them not to be made anymore.

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I have only one time had one of the big bales such as you got. I can

not say I was in love with it either. But I had a choice which you did not.
I requested hay that could be stacked . For me that was very important.

I went and got it in my truck, he loaded the bale(s), and then it was up to

me to unload it. That one(and the last ) bale was very tight hay but The

blocks had to come off the truck in 1/2s so that I could manage it. Yes

I cut the strings and piece by piece unloaded and stacked it in the barn,

and fed it the same way.I had a blue barrel cut in half that hauled the hay

further to the other pens.

I am glad you are having no worse effects from yesterdays dunking! You

are starting Koa's training as a service dog and only beginning to find out

how valuable she will be.

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Yeah, Rebel we've got a couple pitch forks. But there is no room in the rear of the hay shed. It's 10' deep and the bale is 8'. It dropped in a puddled mess...about 5 of the huge "flakes". A very narrow walkway along side the bales to reach the back ...then hand tools and bushel baskets.....and headlamp and face mask! Gets real dusty in that corner. Once the first flakes are dealt with, my spike and board system will hold up the flakes till I'm ready to drop another one down.


Twilight....that would have been initially a LOT of work to deal with each huge flake. But prolly easier to grab from the top then.


I began with Koa last winter while I was still walking the hillside. I couldn't have her pull me much [too young/small] but I started to teach her to stay by my side. Not every trip up. Sometimes I'd let the retractable leash out and let her play on our way up. But enough to begin. Same with pulling me up the stairs to 2nd floor entrance. LOL She developed a habit of leaping the last two steps to say We're UP! :curtsey: ....Not so good if my functioning is down and I'm relying on her. Have worked now and then to curb that final enthusiasm. But now that she's pretty much grown, she can bear the weight of pulling me. :cheer: She's still a nut sometimes...still young. But step by step, we'll get there. .....Also, there is a possibility that she could sense that I truly NEEDED the pull. Might have known that this wasn't practice. She has not always discerned this but that too, might come with her maturity. It's been fun to watch the process.


Started my van today and moved it so it gets sunshine.


MtRider .....overnight low was MINUS 22 :o But sunshine temp was 45 briefly. DH home tonite to help!

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Oh do not think I was even remotely suggesting you do your hay the way I did .

Sorry I was just telling you how I had to do mine and why. I also had 25-40 goats

to care for so I used a lot more hay.


A service dog is not made over night. They have to live with you and pick up on your

weakness and learn what to do when and how. Koa is still a pup but an intelligent

one. She will not be mature until she is 3-4 years old.

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Actually, I would consider splitting the bale and stacking. It is SO crowded and difficult in our small hay shed! But even dropped right outside the shed, it would be quite a chore to move 1200 lbs ...even a few feet. Gonna seriously ponder it tho. With two of us picking up each flake...or two or three??? Main obstacle I see would be .... :unsure: would it even fit into the shed? Once the twine is released...*Pop* ....it does expand! :blink: I've thot of using the packing straps...with the rachet wind-up thingie? I've collected a few at garage sales. But not sure how... Hmmm....pondering a better way!!!!


Honestly, I've never even thought of splitting it to transport. Like you, I wouldn't do that unless I had no other options. But if you have livestock depending on you, you do what you have to do. :thumbs:



Yea!.....today is the IN BETWEEN STORMS day. Last nite low was a balmy 20 above zero. :cele: Today will climb to the 40's or 50's in the sun. But we have a chill breeze that's being pushed by the next storm set for this weekend. :frozen: Still, it's nice for a break. I'm trying to figure out if I ABSOLUTELY HAVE to do something...fix something....fill something...before the next storm. :scratchhead: Think all is pretty much done since our last scramble. Will eventually need to reinforce the tying down of the that tarp. But it is holding for now.


Note To Self: {buy new bungie cords for tarp ....and my NEXT emergency large tarp to have on hand!}


Hope y'all are ready for what's hitting you ....today? Last nite? :pray:


MtRider ...back to "normal" for a day. :rolleyes:

Edited by Mt_Rider

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Mt_Rider bet you are glad that's over! We had a day like that yesterday only it wasn't that cold! Frigid air(or awful heat) makes everything tougher.

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