Winter is my least favorite season of the year. We’ve already experienced periods of severe arctic temperatures (-27 degrees!) and time spent outside has been reduced only to what is necessary to complete basic animal chores. I prefer to spend the bitter-cold months of January and February under a blanket with a mug of hot tea in my hands. For the animals, though, having access to clean, fresh water in liquid form can be a real struggle in winter.
Having the pond makes the water solution for our bird flock pretty simple during winter months, as long as the pond is kept from freezing. We purchased an electric de-icer to place in the pond to prevent the water from freezing.
We are no longer using the typical chicken waterers for our flock, which eliminates time spent filling them in sub-zero temperatures.
We also purchased a de-icer for the water tank in the sheep and cow pen. Last year we had to break up the ice that formed on their water each day with a 2×4. Then, we’d pour very hot water into their tank to melt the remaining ice and keep their water in a liquid state for as long as possible. The de-icers have gone a long way in making animal chores easier this winter.
We are still experiencing one problem: we have to refill the animals’ water daily and we don’t have access to an outdoor water source in winter as the spigot and hose are frozen. Ryan is forced to bring two 5-gallon buckets into our house, fill them with water from our bathtub, then haul them out to fill the pond and water tank. He usually has to repeat this several times until everything is replenished. In case you are unsure, he can confirm this task is not enjoyable, while I can confirm it usually disrupts the kids’ bath time schedule.
The simple solution to this problem is to dig a well near the barn with a hand-pump that will allow us to fill buckets outside, saving the hassle of an icy trek to and fro with heavy buckets.
Digging a well will be an added expense for our tight budget, but we’d like to explore the possibility of completing the project this year. We’ll begin this spring with getting some estimates. I will love having a hand-pump well not only as a solution to the winter water problem, but year-round as a back-up water source. Currently, we are dependent upon electricity to power the well that supplies water to our home. We had the power go out last fall for several hours and we couldn’t flush a toilet or wash our hands. (We ended up traveling into town and eating our dinner at a restaurant, partly because I wasn’t able to finish cooking it in my electric oven, and partly so we could have access to a bathroom!) I will feel very relieved and comforted with the addition of a new well on our farm, knowing we will always have access to fresh, clean water, independent of the power supply.