Old Man Winter

Just what have you got up your sleeve anyway?

We have received an early and very frigid blast of winter. The yard is snowed in, gates and doors are blocked by snow, the temperature dropped and the wind is fierce.

I was stymied about how to feed the sheep. 

The wind was still blowing and snow still falling. It was like a mini blizzard and it would be a trek through deep snow to get them out to pasture.

Our little tractor is a seasonal one; it’s hydraulics don’t work in the cold so using it to unroll a bale was not an option.

There are eight round bales on a hilltop in the paddock where the sheep bed down. If I could just get one of them started on the flat I might be able to unroll it downhill (I've done it before). 110 pounds against 1200 in deep, soft snow.  No luck, I need more of a hill to get started.  Forking enough hay loose to feed five hundred wasn’t sounding good either.

No choice then, out to pasture we must go. When it comes to situations like this I am indebted to stock dogs and I drop all cares about how perfect they work. Jayde and Cajun got the flock up and moving, into the wind no less. After that it only took a couple pushes to encourage them through deep spots and they took themselves out to pasture, knowing the route from previous days. I was worried about them getting enough feed with the snow depth but a check later in the day showed the majority of them digging and grazing. All our extra hay bales are stored in this pasture so several individuals took the opportunity to nibble on bales as well. They made a bit of a mess but it hardly seemed the day to be picky about that.

I rounded them up on the Ranger in the early evening and noted that they came in with full looking bellies. I felt a little more at ease, yet with this early snow and cold temperatures we might be facing a very challenging winter.