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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself.

-D.H. Lawrence

I worry about the birds right now. Florida is where they come to escape the most frigid blows of winter. What happens when all that cold follows them here?

I ventured out today (while the daytime temperature hovered at freezing) to see how the animals were faring.

I had noticed this cute little hole in the bottom of an oak tree two nights ago. There were little tiny eyes in there glittering in my headlights.

Now in the light of day, I wondered if there was any little creature in there. I was afraid to get too close..

this was too close apparently!

I heard a rapid clicking teeth chattering or old typewriter keys. I know owls make that noise to scare people away but do owls nest that close to the ground? I don't know. Possum maybe, or raccoon? Whatever it was, it scared me enough that I almost tripped over myself backwards getting a respectful distance away.

Checking on the fish was an after thought I had as I walked by. They live in the water trough quite self sufficiently, feeding off the droppings of hay and grass from the horses mouths when they take a drink.

For the first time in 20 years, the trough had a film of ice over it. At first, I thought the fish "herman", "ariel" and "batman" were dead. Then I noticed that they were moving ever so slightly, keeping themselves keeled in the water way down deep.

How long can they live with ice coating their surface? Again I dont know, so I gently break the ice up with a twig. The fish start to rise, maybe they think the motion means food... "herman" is the biggest and he gently floats almost to the top with the chunks of ice floating just above him.

So much for being a tropical fish, huh "herman"?

The horses look ok. This one especially has made a custom nose warmer out of an ordinary bale of hay. How clever is she?

The littlest baby calves get kept warm by their mamas but the ones just above that level present a problem. Normally, they are kept in little round pens with their fellows and get grain water and milk. But this weather is way to cold for what is normal.

So we did this. We fashioned a horseshoe shaped barrier to block the wind from the north, east and west.

We filled the interior space with calves each in their individual pen with their grain and water. Then we covered the entire lot with a humongous tarp.

Once the sun peeked out we rolled back the tarp to let the sun warm the calves.

peekaboo you!

This calf told me this was her first time tent camping and she is hoping for "smores" when they camp again tonight.

I was so impressed with how well the "tent" worked and how the calves are thriving in spite of the weather. Now on to their bigger sisters....

These cows do not want me near their hay! As I tried to get near them, I could swear I heard one of them say "Whatch you talkin' 'bout Willis?" I was afraid to take one step nearer. They have circled the wagons...that is T.H.E.I.R. hay and if I want some hay I can find my own!

"Alright, alright," I say backing away! "By the way, have you meet the chattering teeth dudes in the tree? You all have a lot in common as far as defending your space - just sayin..."

The bigger cows are more blasé as they enjoy their routine lunch date together,

in spite of that one guest who just invites herself and eats like a bird. Socially awkward, but what are you going to do?

On to Dead Fox Hill, which yes, gets its name from the time we found a dead fox laying right at the top. It was perfectly preserved so it most have frozen to death one night. It looked like it was older and maybe the cold was just too much for its old self one night. It was as magnificently preserved as any taxidermist could have made it, just laying alone there at the top of the hill. Therefore the name.

Nothing that awesome at the top of the hill today except this,

Somethings had a meal here in the last day...

On the far edge of the farm, the honey bees are silent. Normally there would be buzzing and activity hovering above the bee condos. Not today. They are all tucked in.

This is the furtherest remote edge of the farm. The spot where what we tend and care for meets a 600 acre forest.

What animals are out there, surviving on their own?

It is mow midnight here and 17 degrees.

Stay warm everyone.


  1. Your gold fish will be fine if gases do not build up under the ice.

    Great idea on the pens.

    Stay warm.

  2. Oh thats good to know Gail, thanks!


  3. First of all, love the photo under this post of the icicles on the tree...beautiful!

    Secondly, your "What you talkin' about, Willis" comment really cracked me up! Still gigglin...

    Stay warm down there in Florida...we're worried about the oranges...we love us some oranges up here in FREEZING OHIO!!! Can't grow 'em here and we count on Florida for our supply!!!


  4. Hi Beth,

    We are worried about the oranges too! Big industry down here. Tonight is supposed to be the last night of such critical temps and then we will see how much damage there is I guess.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Hi Indie! I wondered how the cold was treating you and yours. I hope your animals and farmland do well despite this weather craziness. It's been under 20* for a few weeks here. I can't wait for it to hit 40 again so I can wear my shorts again. ha


  6. Hugs back to you!

    Its good to see you around these parts!!


  7. Thanks for the great tour around your farm, very interesting for us city folks, Hmmm, I wonder what was hiding in the tree trunk? I hope it warms up for you, you've had colder temps than we were having in New England.... stay warm!

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  9. I favor using the woven wire also. For the reasons Bill gives, and also because it has more "give." I have used a woven wire round pen for many years, and still do. Five or six years ago we built a second round pen panels with cattle panels in a different field. It looked very spiffy. The first time we used it was at a clinic, where an out-of-control novice dog ran one of the sheep into a panel. Its neck broke and it had to be put down (fortunately, one of the clinic attendees was a vet). If that sheep had been run into wire fencing I'm sure the damage would have been minimal