Prepping for the Deep Cold

So the news today has a warning to it.. it says that this weekend, that we are going to get down to -40 (including windchill) and let me tell ya.. that be cold!

we have been at -27 to -30 ish this week and its cold, you need your long underwear, you want your layers and your winter gear.. but when it its that -40, the air is cold enough that it hurts if you are silly enough to breath it in without wool wrapped around your face to warm it up..

Its cold enough that the moisture from your breath with create ice to form on hubbies beard and I will be wearing my hair down for just that extra layer tucked into my scarf and into my jacket..

It’s the type of cold where you understand and are so grateful that your deep cold winter jacket has either coyote or wolf fur on the hood, because no matter what the world view on fur is, we know that thick winter Canine fur will split the wind and creates a barrier that will allow your face to be degree’s warmer as long as you are not directly in facing the wind.

It’s the kind of winter day, that you will put on the sunglasses.. I know, I know. but sun, white snow and brutal cold.. you can freeze your eyes and gets a mild lovely case of snow glare..

Photokeratitis is caused by damage to the eye from ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunlight is the main source of natural UV rays. Photokeratitis can be caused by sun reflection from sand, water, ice and snow.

But having said all that, the truth is other than worrying a touch about one of the ewes deciding to have lambs this weekend, I am looking forward to the whole farm taking a deep breath and hunkering down. Its going to be a slow weekend, they will burrow into their bedding and eat more food and give the outside world the stink eye, and the sheep and horses will come out of their barn with blinking eyes a twice a day and grudging do the walk up to the front by the yard for their fresh warm water (they can come any time for the big heated tough) but the truth is.. they will wait for that room temp warm to them water..

They will grin to themselves over the fact that it seems like there is extra in their feed..  o.. extra grain and did you see a scoop of BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) into the mix for the extra fat and calories. And unlimited hay to stuff and chew, chew, chew..

For us in the house, I will check my kits, for just in case of power out, otherwise, frozen pipes is about the only thing I will give the eye to myself.. so far this year, we have done fine, our last fix so far as done amazingly well this year, but this will be the coldest yet.

So in the barns, out of the wind.. and before the animals heat, the temp is going to be -27 to -30ish.  the pigs will just borrow in their inside pen in a huge pile straw, and they will lay end to tail and when they rise out of their straw like big pig boats, they will steam and eat and drink and grunt  and then use their bathroom and go right back to bed..  The only sign of them, will be the steam rising from their bed..


The sheep will sleep in a herd, the smaller will snuggle closer to the bigger, leaning back to back for that extra warmth and they will be on their deep pack that has been growing all fall and early winter.. it is a mix of straw, poo a urine.. we have had lots of warm days, which while odd has been great for the deep pack, its composting under the newest layer of bedding, which means that all the pasture critters when laying down in their deep pack have in floor heating.

DSCN4617 (4)


And the truth is, the horses will both join them and not..  they will spend the night in the barn and they will lay down and enjoy that warmer floor themselves, but they will also stick their heads out the door and they will wait.. and if the sun shines despite the cold, they will come out and they will park themselves in front of the barn, out of the wind, standing side by side and then they will sun doze..

As long as they have access to the barn, wind breaks and all their needs meet, who am I to tell them in their thick winter coats that they can not sun themselves.. because the truth is the sun is warm right now..  When the sun pours into my living room, it can add up to an extra 5 degrees over the day in that room right now..  I will take it.. free heat, and the purrpots and hounds are found sleeping on in the sun..

Speaking of the hounds, my oldest hounds have a heated bed to sleep on, and the purrpots will join him I am sure.

So Lets talk about the things that must be prepped  for this cold.

  1. Water.. you must have water and when it gets this cold, you do not know if you can have a freeze up or a power outage.. fill up an extra 55 gallon drum where it will not freeze, fill up an extra day or two worth of five gallon buckets ahead of time..  only you know how much water you should put up. While we certainly have enough gear and cloths, some folks choose to keep less in stock so get that laundry done up, get your dishes done up..
  2. Food-Feed For those of us that are in the house, cook up a head if you do not have a good supply of pop and heat meals already prepped ahead.. If you lose power, have a plan to heat up water, and soup, stews..  a hot cuppa and a hot bowl of soup is what is needed..  (none of this, I must run to the store for milk and bread) having said that..  If you do not lose power and it’s just cold, keep a pot of hot soup simmering on the stove.. dip in whenever you feel like it.. bake some fresh bread or cookies..  it will lift everyone’s spirits to smell it in the house
  3. Feed- Keep everyone topped up and loaded down.. in the bitter cold, add a bit of extra fat to the rabbits and fowl dishes, keep the hay in front of all your four-footed critters and keep that bedding deep and high for your pigs. Keep  your farm dogs in (unless it’s a livestock breed and then just makes sure its got a good pile of straw if it wants it, the odds it will bunk down with the sheep or goats.)
  4. .Shelter, it’s a must! Wind Breaks are good, but to me shelter means wind break, dry and with bedding. the bedding is important and for me, I used straw.. lots and lots of straw
  5. Watch the old and the young, they are the ones that will have the hardest time.

For me, my oldest purrpots are in the house and use a litterbox, no need for them to be exposed at all. but my oldest Elder hound, that is hard, bathroom s outside, so my best advice, either bundle up and go out with and as soon as done, back in the house, or put on a leash – 30 foot long line and put out, watch out the window and as soon as done, bring in.  Consider a dog coat, make sure they have a heated bed to warm up in.


For me, the young is a less them a week old nest of rabbit kits, they are in a big old pile of pulled fur in the back enclosed rabbit sleep area, lots of bedding, the key for them is to keep momma in lots of water updates so she can make milk, increase her feeding to unlimited and top with a tbp of BOSS and then because I am a worry wort, cover the whole hutch with a tarp to cut out the windchill factor.

Now I only checked the nest on day three, and I had at least 8 plus fat bellied warm kits and the night temps were -27, so if I can take the windchill out, then I have every reason to feel they will do just fine.

For the fowl, out doors are blocked keeping them inside and square straw bales have been placed in some areas to create draft blocking for at floor levels and in other cases, square bales have been placed  in the shelters so that they can be slept on.. goats love to be up higher 🙂

There you have the must do’s.. clearly if you have a wood stove, you should have wood for it, but as that is a daily thing for those that heat with wood, I did not think it needed to be on the list.. but if you only have wood as a backup heating source.. you should prep that as well.

Hope everyone has a grand weekend an just as a side note. I am luck when it comes to the garden, I have a snow pack with a ice cover on it.. it will go along way to help protect my plants, others are not so lucky..


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8 Responses to Prepping for the Deep Cold

  1. MINUS FORTY! Where on earth are you? We are going down to Minus 4 – which is not too bad – -10 is not unusual but MINUS 40!? Even in 2014 we only went down to -20. You have terrible cold there and lambing – thank goodness they can get inside. c

    • I am in Eastern Canada, and thankfully where we live now, we only tend to get one or two of these truly bitter cold snaps, in northern alberta where I was raised, we could get them for a week or two but when I lived in the high Artic in Nunavut, that is where I learned about true deep cold and for weeks at a time.

      that was why, I said.. Shelter to me is a MUST.. and while a wind break with lots of deep bedding can work for healthy adults, I think for babies and for the elderly, full shelter is really needed ideally.

      • Yes – Gosh you have lived in some interesting places.. and freezing places too.. I agree about shelter even here – they need the option.. though we are cold and snowy today and of course they are all standing outside and I just saw two pigs run past at a gallop! who knows what they are up to – however they all get deep beds for the nights.. poor you.. I don’t need to tell you to wrap up!! c

  2. judy says:

    We must be in the same aritc cold blast this weekend as you. This morning was -40. BRRR! Sounds like a warm up next week, fingers crossed! Couldn’t agree more…lots of good food, tons of bedding & shelter!!
    I ADORE your kit nest pic!!!!

    • Thanks Judy, I am happy that inside it is little guys growing.. I think the cold is moving from your direction and heading our way, its just that time of year in Canada 🙂 We all should know that we can get a couple days to a couple weeks of this kind of cold.. I will admit that most of our winter has been mild but you still must at least prepare for the possablity that the more regular cold-winter will rear its head..

  3. grammomsblog says:

    I’ll be hibernating this weekend :)! I don’t have any farm animals but I gave the outside birds extra beef suet and BOSS in the feeders. We seem to have a family of outdoor feral cats: mother with three 3 month old kittens so I bought cat food and fed them as well as put out cooked chicken skin/fat from the chicken bones I boiled for soup stock. Poor creatures…..
    All my wood has been chopped and the wood cookstove is keeping us warm! Take care and stay warm!

  4. valbjerke says:

    I grew up in northern Alberta – I used to write the coldest temps on my window sill to keep track from year to year. Minus 52 was the coldest I remember. Here in Northern BC – we still get some patches of cold, but not for weeks on end. We always keep a half dozen 50 gallon barrels of water in the barn in the winter, and we have a wood heater in there as well to keep the chill off. I quite like when the hydro goes out – I find it very peaceful not having to listen to the buzz of lights, fridge etc. We have a small generator to run the well to refill water as we’re on our own system. We try not to have anything under heat lamps in the winter – but back when we raised pigs – that generator came in handy a few times to keep the piglets from freezing. 🙂

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