Homesteading Below Zero

Homesteading Below Zero

Dec 09, 2021

It is not even January yet and we have had single digits and negative temperatures. For the most part we are prepared. Our snowmobiles have already been checked and gassed up, we have loads of fire wood, propane was topped off, and we pulled out all of our winter gear.

Something we did not quite think of was our animals out in the snow. That makes me sound like a bad homestead mom, but I just didn't quite think of it till the freezing temperatures came about.

This year we have a nice big coop that the chickens and goats share, but there are a few boards that have a big gap. You do want your coop to be vented but you also don't want drafts. The best temporary thing we did was put old sheets over the walls where there is a bad draft. This temporarily covers the draft but still gets good ventilation. We are using this until we pick up our plastic to put over the drafts.

We also use the deep bedding method. This is actually super easy and cost effective. instead of shoveling out all of the old bedding, you just repeatedly turn over the soiled bedding and adding a new layer, which is allowing all of the animal droppings to decompose on the floor in the winter. This also is creating heat to keep the coop warm naturally. Another bonus to it is you are getting the same beneficial bacteria as you do in composting, which also means your animals are less likely to get diseases.

You will also want to check on their water quite often. Hydration plays a huge part in winter time. I will check on the animal’s water often to make sure it is not frozen, and to also make sure they have enough feed. For the goats we will need to make sure they are getting enough minerals in the winter as well, which you can pick up at your local feed store.

Occasionally you will see some chickens may have frostbite on their combs or feet. You can use Vaseline to keep the moisture off. Many people do not like to use that method, but it works for our chickens. What makes them happy is what makes us happy!

Now that all of the animals are taken care of, we can get ourselves situated. When it hits the low temperatures, we make sure we have wood stacked on the porch and also have some stacked in the house. Wood heat is our only source of heat so keeping a fire going is extremely important.

Right now, we don't have an efficient wood stove, but it does the job for the time being. We initially start with a couple of logs and fire starter to get the wood stove going. We have a temperature gauge on the flue pipe which helps us know when we are in the "Burn Zone". After the fire gets going, we do a 1 log fire. Once we get outside of the burn zone, we check the stove and we see that 1 log is burned through so we put in another all throughout the day. During the night we change it to a 2- 3 log fire depending on how cold it is. This is when it can get frustrating, every 2 hours we have to get up to stoke the fire and put a couple more logs in, just so we can keep warm. We also put a towel at the bottom of the doors to prevent drafts.

So far this is all we are having to do. I'm sure in a few short weeks we will have to start shoveling the roof, and snowmobiling in and out of the house.

"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour."

-John Boswell

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