Tuesday, May 6, 2014

This Changes Everything!

No, it's not some fancy new design for a watering wand or some earth-shattering invention of a new hose.  It's just the fact that we once again have outdoor running water that changes everything!

All winter, every winter, we have no outdoor running water.  We've looked into installing something from our well, which is located between the house and the barn.  Setting up for weather-proof running water in the barn has proved just too expensive for our modest budget.  So all winter we're hauling water from the house to the barn and the chicken coop.  There is only one power outlet in the barn itself and we're afraid to be running extension cords around so much straw, hay and wood so one goat stall has a heated bucket.  Every other stall has just a plain, old plastic bucket of water, which freezes.  The chicken coop has one waterer which doesn't freeze, but the chickens go through the supply almost every day.

So, winter is interesting here at Aagaard Farms.  And this was an especially looooong, very cold winter.  We have multiples of everything: two chicken waters, eight plastic buckets.  Buckets of water are thawing in our foyer all the winter.  Half thawed water is dumped in the kitchen sink, the bath tub or outside if we're ready to go out, making for interesting ice sculptures everywhere.  Buckets sitting in the pens always have frozen 'stuff' on the bottoms, which softens and falls off or melts into a puddle.  So winter is messy here at the wee farm.  Old newspapers holding dirty pails are always in the foyer or in front of the heater.

Getting water up is a relay event.  Four buckets go at a time, so it's carry two outside, carry two more outside, carry two up to the barn, return, carry two more up to the barn, all bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  At least once a day a chicken water has to go up for another trip.  We haul a frozen bucket out of a stall, replace with a new bucket.  Do the rounds, haul all the frozen buckets back to the house to thaw for the next time, make hot chocolate (very important!).  When it was very cold, the water would freeze in a few hours so we were doing this little chore three, sometimes four times a day.  Goats also have some natural talent for pooping into their water buckets so sometimes an extra bucket had to go.  Since our does were pregnant, we were keeping an eye on both water and hay regularly through the day, trying to get them through the cold weather.  At -30 C, with a wind chill the trip can seem like a hike to the Arctic Circle!

So, you can see why a simple garden hose makes such a difference!  First, water is no longer freezing.  And, if water is dirty, it's just a matter of dumping it out the door, fill and replace.  The chicken waterer, too, is just taken outside, emptied and re-filled.  It makes life so much simpler and lessens the time involved in the chore substantially.  And that's a good thing, 'cause we're getting a little busy with other stuff!

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