Winter has hit hard and fast. Most years in our area winter sort of eases you into the cold times, teases you along with 30 degrees Faranheit , then 45 degrees, then back to 30, all in the month of December. Then, wham! the second week in January winter starts getting serious all the way through Feb. and first part of March with artic cold fronts and below zero temperatures for days and weeks at a time.
December first of this year started with 30 degrees and then suddenly dropped to 12 degrees with wind chills of zero and below and it’s stayed there. It’s pretty pathetic when you think 20 degrees is a warm day and oh my, if you get sunshine with that, where’s the shorts and the suntan oil?
I realized that first day of 12 degrees with windchill of zero, that things were a bit different. I took a brand new 100 foot hose out of the cellar house and loosened it’s coils a bit, hooked it to the outside spigot, grabbed the other end to go and put fresh water in some of the goats’ tubs and buckets. I took off and it broke in all of it’s coils, barely hanging together with a thread. We buy the water hoses that do not kink and this thing was so cold it kinked and broke in each kink. Now, that’s a windchill.
The bucks were walking around with ice scicles hanging down from their sheaths where they had urinated and that last dab to come out had frozen. They were saying, “What on earth?! This doesn’t happen until the middle of January!” I was concerned for the bucks’ tongues that were constantly sticking out and flapping as they looked at all the beautiful does on the place, just on the other side of the fence. I was afraid a buck would get too close to the woven wire and get his tongue stuck on the fence. He would either jerk backward, hurting his tongue or stand there and wait for me to do something. I could see it now, Gideon standing there with tongue stuck to the wire going, “Uee uh. El e!” Translation: “Hurry up! Help me!”
And, the water in the tubs and buckets seemed to freeze instantly. You put it in and it’s already starting to freeze. A few minutes later the goats come up for a drink and almost shout, “What! You expect us to drink this? It’s hard as a rock! What kind of joint are you running around here!” I’d see their predicament and, with a subservient attitude, would be scurrying up to their tubs with a shovel, pounding away, scooping out big chunks of ice, saying, “Sorry, girls, sorry. There you go.” The girls are standing in line, diving in for the first drink, muttering to each other, “Can you believe this? Can you believe the slow service around here?”
Then, when I have a few minutes for myself to thaw out before going back outside, I see on the goat lists, “Oh, dahlings, I won’t let my goats drink cold water in the winter. It’s not good for them, don’t you know.” And, how many goats do you have? “Oh, I have three.” What, I squawk to myself. Let’s see you try that with 100-160 goats!
Then others say, “Oh, people, the only way to go is with heated lines or put a heated float in the tub.” Okay, with as many goats as we have in different pens, that’s a lot of lines and to put electric to all the floats we’d need, we just haven’t puzzled out how to run the electric lines safely so that a snoopy goat doesn’t give it a big bite to see what happens. It’s a mystery.
But, until we get figured out how to keep water thawed in the tubs and buckets, I guess I’m the running water on the place with my handy dandy hoses, rubber gloves to keep my hands dry, and my trusty shovel, so the goats get a good drink each day. And, for goodness sakes, don’t forget to drain the hoses! I toss one end of the hose over a convenient tree limb or any place higher than my head and pull the hose slowly over and do it twice. Then I have a hose that isn’t frozen the next day. Don’t forget to take that end piece off that turns the water off and on. Put it on each time you use the hose and take it off when finished with the hose. The turning off knob will probably be frozen the next time you use it, just dip it in the water of the first tub you are filling up and it will thaw out. And, if you don’t like that idea, well, stick that little turn off piece under your arm pit and thaw it out quick! Yes, I get a bit testy in the winter time.
This December, how I knew it was one of the colder ones, I think I frostbit my eyeballs. That was a first. I’m use to the idea of frozen feet, frozen hands, frozen face, but to come inside and have my eyeballs feel itchy and weird as they got warm. That is most definitely a first. I think they are okay now, but I don’t exactly know what to do to keep the eyeballs from getting frozen. Maybe those goggles that you see downhill skiers use? Which that particular title I’ve always wondered about, downhill skiers. In comparison to up hill skiing? Of course they are going down hill. How else could they ski? Okay, I just proved I get grumpy when cold, especially when my eyeballs get frozen.
Uh, oh, I’ve been inside too long. I see the girls lined up at the tubs, looking accusingly at the house. The water we broke out for them this morning has frozen. I’ll break it out and dump it and put in fresh so it will take an hour our two before it is froze again. Ooops, they saw my face at the window. They are verbally hollering and growling at me now. I can almost hear them say, “Just what kind of joint is this?! Where’s the service?! Did you see Connie at the window? She’s hiding in there, I just know it!” Don’t you just love winter?