And…this is winter.

The snow falling outside my office window in the Heights probably means many things to many people.  For me, it’s a gently falling reminder that old man winter beat us back to the ranch.  We still aren’t moved back out there.

Just a few days ago, temperatures hovered between 55-60 degrees in our little corner of the planet.  Now we’re in the 20s, complete with two days of snow.  Illinois is like that, almost specializing in drastic weather changes that come in the night.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been expecting the cold.  Our winter supply of hay–minus one flatbed load that we still need to pick up–is safely tucked away, either in barns or under tarps.  Our grain room, likewise, is nearly full.

And, yet, the cold hit yesterday, and I found myself running around like mad trying to tie up loose ends.

I ran from store to store. At the first, I picked up a heated base for my chicken water, a sinking heater for my horse trough (the one from last year is toast), and cracked corn.

The cart that served as evidence of how woefully underprepared we were.  I wonder how many carts like this went through check out yesterday.
The cart that served as evidence of how woefully underprepared we were. I wonder how many carts like this went through check out yesterday

Then to another store for winter gloves that stand a chance against ranch life.

Back at the ranch, I noticed a shivering alpaca, just one, so I dug the winter coats out of the feed room

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This one was too big…and pink.
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Midnight Idol is probably our oldest alpaca, and the tiniest. This coat fit him very well, and it probably wouldn’t fit anyone else.

Eventually, several of our animals will be in coats, but I prefer to wait to put them on until they act cold.  The more they regulate their own temperatures without help, the better.

We also dug out heat lamps, and, before leaving for the night, we shut our old men into their stall with their very own heat lamp.

Today, we will head out again, buying posts at Lowe’s for a pony shelter that needs to go in yesterday and winter clothes for Jeremiah.  (Do you believe he went through all of last winter without a heavy winter coat?  Said that if he bought one, winter won.)

And so begins another season out at the ranch.  Hopefully, the big snows hold off for just a bit longer, and we can get moved back out before the roads get icy.  We shall see.

Also, since I’m new at this one, does anyone want to share some friendly advice for keeping chickens nice and cozy?  I have two that have bald(ish) backs from getting picked on, and I’m afraid of frostbite.


17 thoughts on “And…this is winter.

  1. Yesterday, I bought a heated water-dish for Scooter. I’ve been conditioning him to be an inside-outside dog. Inside the garage at night and outside during the day. The little guy LOVES the snow.


    1. My parents have a husky and a Chihuahua. The Husky mopes inside all summer, but you almost can’t get him to come in if there’s three feet of snow. The Chi loves super hot days in the summer, but he has been known to pee behind the couch when it’s really cold and the snow is high. It’s a hilarious mix.


  2. Our chickens do just fine in their coop – but note the coop has four walls and a little chicken door (and a big door for getting eggs) so they are out of the wind. We also put down straw and shavings. They seem to weather each year just fine.


  3. I have a couple of baldish chickens myself … will be watching them over the winter. I wish I knew whether it was the other hens pecking at them, or just an over-enthusiastic roo! Anyway, I was assuming that just a heat lamp and light in their house (which is boarded up for winter with just a small open doorway) would keep them warm enough. They’ll probably go outside some, but won’t actually have to unless they choose to.


  4. I usually throw a hen saddle on my bald hens! It protects them from the roosters tracking on their backs and allows the feathers to grow back. And if I’m feeling really bad for them.. we’re talking -20 F, I’ll crochet them a fuzzy sweater. Yes, I’m nuts, but if I get a coat, they should too!


      1. I have camo ones too. Made some from some beat up camo jackets. I have a hard time seeing the chickens in the yard when they have them on! haha They will absolutely HATE them when you first put them on.. don’t give in. Make them suck it up!


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