Posts Tagged ‘alpacas’

Winter has finally arrived in Saskatchewan.  The other day, Hubby went out to do morning chores, and a frozen chicken fell out of the rafters at him.  She must have been hiding when Hubby rounded everyone up for the night, and gone up to roost in the barn rafter, and not been able to stay warm enough out there by herself.  You’d think she’d have let herself in with the other chickens (the same way she’d let herself out – flying over the stall door), but they don’t really tend to move once it’s dark.  She was apparently frozen quite solid.  It was only minus twenty-something that night. 




Last night, the forecast was for -40.  We finally broke down and ran an extension cord out to the barn, to plug in a heat lamp.  Up until now, we had not done any additional heating or lighting in the barn – we’re trying to be as off-grid as possible.  Instead, we laid down extra bedding, and piled bales of straw up against the doors where the drafts come in.  The barn itself is not really insulated, except for the hay, which is piled in one half of the barn, and the straw bales we’ve added.  There is an inside layer of wooden siding, which cuts the draft, but not much else. The roof is not insulated at all – no hayloft or anything, as the building originally stored grain, rather than being designed as a northern barn.  We also take the water buckets out steaming hot, but they freeze solid in an hour or two.  The critters have learned to drink right away when we water them, and don’t seem to be too phased by the whole thing.


Up until the frozen chicken attack, we hadn’t had any real issues with the cold.  Of course, it hadn’t really been all that cold until recently, but even the nights that reached -25, the barn has consistently stayed substantially warmer than outdoor temperatures, so we hadn’t worried much.  With five goats, two alpacas, however many chickens, and three cats, there are lots of bodies throwing heat.   However, we’re getting down to those frostbite-in-fifteen-seconds sorts of temperatures, where I bundle up like a snowman just to walk across the parking lot at work, and we don’t want the critters to suffer.  That heat lamp isn’t going to raise the temperatures to tropical or anything, but it should mitigate the risk of frostbitten ears and combs.


Our next barn is going to have a hayloft, and some sort of interior insulation.  Or maybe just a couple of horses and a cow (for the body heat, of course).  We’re certain it is possible to get our livestock through a northern winter without electricity – lights or heat – but we’ll need a proper building to do it in…

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This was less than a mile from the house.  We decided that another couple gallons of chokecherries was not worth a bear encounter, particularly since there was at least one set of little tracks to go with the big ones – I have no interest in disturbing a momma bear in the berry patch.  Might explain why the alpacas were going nuts the other night, too.  I think we’ll be picking up a bear banger or two…

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The two baby goats are growing up quick…physically.  They are still playful babies, but big enough now to do some real damage.  Silly, the baby girl, had taken to playing a game of running into the stall from outside, then ramping off the stall door.  We had anticipated those sorts of baby goat antics, and built the door plenty heavy, then attached it with long screws and heavy hinges.  Unfortunately, all of that just meant that Silly just broke the door framing, instead.


We don’t have a truck, of course, and so there is no way to get materials here to repair the stall door.  The remaining stall is far too small to accommodate four goats and two alpacas.  Since we’ve been working on fencing another yard with a convenient little old empty square granary (for the buckling and the alpacas), we decided to separate everyone at night, with all of the girls in the remaining stall, and the buckling and alpacas outside in the yard.


The alpacas are impressive mosquito magnets, crawling with them even when there are only one or two on the goats, and none bothering me.   They really like the chickens being in the yard, and even tolerate the birds hopping on them to pick at bugs when they are lying down.   They had become quite accustomed to going into the barn at night, where the chickens keep the mosquitoes down, and they have not been terribly impressed at us chasing them back out into the yard when we close up at night.


Silly, the instigator in this whole mess, has been a real pain about matters.  She and Tuscan (the buck) have been together since birth, and she is not taking the separation well.  She bleats and bleats, making the most pitiful (and annoying) noise for hours each night.  She has been jumping at the door of the stall that leads to the yard, too, and it is only a matter of time before she breaks that, as well.


Tuscan, for his part, makes a fair bit of noise for a few minutes after the stall door is closed, but settles down fairly quickly.  He was a damp, bedraggled goat this morning, though, as a flash thunderstorm rolled through last night, dumping an inch or two of rain in under half an hour, sometime between 11 and midnight.  I think the poor boy was probably pretty cold.  It’s really too bad, as this is not his fault, but hopefully we can get the boys’ yard done soon…

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Every Farm Needs…Alpacas?




…and Obsidian:




They’re pretty cute…



We could have gotten a donkey or a wether (fixed boy goat) to keep our buck company when we separate him from the girls, but the alpacas were about the same price, and this way, we’ll get wool as well as companionship…

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