On the farm, there are always chores. But in the winter, the morning chores become heightened in importance since the winter is all about Keeping the Animals Alive, and mostly that means keeping water unfrozen and food accessible.
I was raised up to get chores and other work done before fun, so in the mornings, I get the chores done before coffee, shower, etc. unless it is super dark when I leave for work (then Chris gets the chores). The first step is to bundle up: long johns, jeans, hoodie, heavy flannel jacket, hat, mittens with fingerless gloves inside. Super Cary Grant-ish outfit for sure.
After that, it is time to let loose the birds. The chickens dash about and look for food, heading every which way before they realize how freezing cold it is. The ducks look for water right away. They can’t eat without water, and they’d spend their whole day taking baths if they could. Sometime in the next year or two, we will get a pond dug out, which will be good for all of the animals and the garden. Plus I want to stock it with fish for when I am old and want to catch some bluegills.
When it is really cold, the ducks will sit down on the ground to keep their feet warm. We also put a heat lamp in their hut so they can warm up when they need to. The chickens will hang out in the duck hut too, even staying there overnight for a poultry slumber party.
Buck the mini-horse doesn’t much mind the cold, other than the wind. It’s critical to have warm water for him to help him maintain his body temperature, so he has a fancy heated bucket. He also grew in plenty of shaggy hair to keep him warm. If it is not too windy, he wanders around his pasture looking for things to nibble on all day. But when I come out with his sweet feed, he comes a-running up to his shed and munches away on the equivalent of equine Fruit Loops.
Of course, the dogs don’t live outside; these were city dogs before we moved to the farm. They are soft. They get to hang out all night in the toasty, windless house. So, when we do go out, it is play time, especially for Stout. He loves to chase the soccer ball…over and over and over again. The thing is, this time of year, it feels like kicking a watermelon since it is frozen. He doesn’t seem to mind though–he is a bundle of anticipation all day.
Before I head in for coffee and breakfast, I gather up the eggs–usually about five a day, even in winter. They are a beautiful gift for the efforts of the winter chores.