Despite weather.com claiming we have gotten 1.5 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, we actually have over a foot now and more coming down. The snow is light and fluffy – not a problem for the horses or other barn animals (except the ducks who stayed in). However, the temperature will be dropping soon – into teens, then single digits and even negative numbers – all prior to wind chill being factored in.
So what can be done to keep the animals comfortable? Little things can make a big difference. When the horses come in, I take a sweat scraper and wipe all the snow off. That saves the horses from using energy to melt the snow and then dry their coats. Yes, gasp, our three horses who circle 30 years of age go without blankets. They are very happy, healthy and hairy. To blanket them I would need to clip them, which simply isn’t going to happen. It would also require an increase in life insurance (mine) and a bit of risk taking to try blanketing the half blind Arab gelding. Monte is a great guy, but he doesn’t like changes in his routine and he doesn’t like horse clothing – period.
All the horses had their teeth worked on this fall, but Monte and Sugar, the older donkey, aren’t eating their hay well. So they get some alfalfa pellets added as part of their ration. The barn animals go on three times a day feeding – morning grain, then hay outside. Suppertime – grain and hay inside. Bedtime – more hay inside.
Along with the two inside feedings, they get warmed water added to their buckets. That goes for all the barn animals – including sheep and ducks. Everyone drinks more with the water warmed. I sometimes lug down a bucket or two of very hot water to mix in or simply use our bucket warmer to heat up some water to distribute.
The barn cat’s canned food gets moved to the house, so we bring down a warm can twice a day. Fire (for Firecracker – born on the 4th of July) has a warm bed that lies on top of the heated wood box surrounding the water pump. My kids swear his bed is warmer than theirs on cold winter nights!
A lot of these things are simple, quick and easy adjustments that make life much better for the barn animals. As for me, I love being in the barn on a snowy night. I listen to the horses munching their hay, the ducks quietly muttering among themselves and the sheep rustling around their hayrack. Peaceful and good for the soul.