A Taste of Frigid Weather

I don’t like being unprepared for much of anything but the last two weeks or so of frigid air gave me a real kick in the pants!  We have been used to teens and single digit weather but not with 20 – 45 mile an hour winds.  We were able to keep the house good and warm but had to keep heaters in the cellar and laundry room around in the clock.  We didn’t have any frozen water pipes or lose any of the valuable canned goods.

We did however have to keep chopping holes in the streams that water our cattle.  We had to move two herds due to the mountain springs freezing solid and the feed we gave them was increased by an extra roll of hay each day, giving the two larger herds three round bales and the heifers two.  The heifers and bulls  were given corn gluten every other day.

January 3rd we went to Rural King to pick up salt and feed for the chickens and he bought me a new insulated barn coat and insulated bib coveralls!!!  Along with the Extreme socks Heather bought me for Christmas, the flannel lined jeans Shawn got me and these from Eddie the winter weather coming would not be taking hold of me!!!!

First pair of flannel lined jeans I’ve ever had and they are so comfortable.
Flannel-lined jeans, heavy flannel shirt, black under armor, insulated flannel lined bibs and a wonderful insulated hooded barn coat.







I know how the Pillsbury Dough Boy  feels now, waddling around!!!!

January 5th was the worst day and the pickup wouldn’t start, the big tractor fuel was frozen and wouldn’t start, and we used the small Kubota until the hydraulics froze up.  At this point the cattle were fed the old fashioned way by using 15 square bales of hay loaded onto the old Dodge pickup for the larger herds and 10 square bales to the heifers.  We keep bales of hay in the loft of the bull barn for the bulls and they were fed hay and grain.  I had filled up the firewood on the porch and in the house and was constantly chucking it into the woodstoves.  I made a huge pot of soup on the stove and our bodies stayed warm and full on the inside!!! The chickens and rabbits were checked hourly along with Mischief, our coon hound and all were given fresh warm water. Mischief stayed wadded up in her house with enormous batts of hay! We had been feeding her extra food to keep some fat on for just this kind of weather. We take good care of all of our animals. The temperature that day finally reached 12* but the wind was raging and expecting to last through noon Saturday.  With the wind chill the last few days our temps were ranging from -12* to 0*.   Mr. Caldwell was working on thawing the tractor all day in the frigid cold and wind!

Finally on Monday we were able to get out and do some extra winterizing to prepare for the next onset which might be within the next week!

The chickens are out and able to free range again although there isn’t much grass for them to find and they love anything green.
Cleome staying in her warm nesting box loaded with fresh hay.
Marigold is doing the same but she comes out more than Cleome.
Sebastian has two sections to his hutch. When the wind is howling you won’t catch him out in this open area of his hutch.
During the storm they didn’t have this loose hay out in the open part of their hutches but they will now until spring. There is one area of their hutches that has no hay and that’s because it’s their “potty” area behind their nesting boxes..

Marigold likes to sit on top of her box a lot but didn’t during the bad weather! It’s unbelievable how Mother Nature had provided them with such luxiourious fur coats for the winter.








So with the rabbits taken care of before the next batch of frigid weather, I went straight to the hen house.  Extra bedding was put in their nests to help keep the eggs from freezing.  There’s not much I can do with their water freezing except take them warm water more often.  Hopefully in the spring the electricity will be added to their house but this new house is much warmer and cleaner than the old one.

The chickens are out and able to free range again although there isn’t much grass for them to find and they love anything green.
The hens belong to this cinder-block building now. It’s warm, easier to clean because it has openings along the lower end of the shed to clean out under the roosts with a pressure hose. It’s cool in the summer and warm in the winter UNLESS it gets in the 20 degree range or lower.
We have a frost-free spigot outside of the building to get their water. No more hauling jugs of water up the hill behind the house anymore!!
We have 36 hens now and Eddie put 14 nesting boxes so that everyone will have plenty of room to provide us with wonderful farm fresh eggs.
There’s no crowding on the roosts but chickens are the worst for having a pecking order.
Yesterday I put a layer of fresh hay on the floor for the older girls to sit in during the day. These ladies are all four to five years old and don’t lay much but they’re my girls so they get preferential treatment.














I use a metal pan for their water so that when it freezes I can take it outside, pour a little hot water over the bottom and the ice pops right out.  I do carry a jug of hot water with me when I go check the water for the rabbits, chickens and the dog.  They love that warm water to warm their insides!  I’m keeping the rabbits and the chickens feed bowls full.  If they have plenty to eat their fat stores will help to keep them warm.

Now that the animals are better prepped for the frigid air to return it was time to fill up the porch with two types of firewood.

The east end of the porch has well seasoned firewood. I put one end of a 9 x 12 tarp down on the porch and place the wood on top of it. This protects the porch and the leftover end of the tarp is pulled up over the wood and held in place with extra sticks of wood and bungee cords. The stack when full if about five feet high and fills the eight feet length of the end of the porch.
The west end of the porch has the same amount of wood but this has not seasoned as much and we use it at night to hold the fire for several hours. It’s heavier because it’s not been cut and split as long, is dry but not as dry as the other wood. We don’t have to worry as much about Flue fires with seasoned wood and there’s been a lot of complete home losses in Virginia this year due to fires!

We have two piles of wood outside and one is seasoned, split and covered.  The other is dried but not fully seasoned and not split.  We have plenty more in the woods ready to take down and bring in to the house.

We keep a large rack of firewood in the house beside the stove (about 18-24 inches away from the stove so we won’t have to go out everytime we need to fill the stove.




We have two large ponds on the property and both have 8-10 inches of ice on them now but the overflows water the heifers and the bulls. The other cattle now get their water from some lowland springs that rarely go dry but we have to watch them because with the weather we were having they will freeze and have to be broken up a few times a day.















We’ve made it through the first of the really cold winter weather but we’re ready for the worst to come in the next three months.  Between now and then I’ll sit with my new seed catalogs and prepare for what we all hope to be an early spring!!   When we expect high winds and possible power outages I keep plenty of buckets of water in the laundry room for flushing the toilets and several gallon jugs of water for cooking and hand-washing.  We keep supplies of candles, oil lamps and matches on hand and small wood on the side porch for the wood cook stove.  Four small tanks of propane are always full to heat the laundry room (holds our main source of water pipes) and the cellar.

Stay warm and don’t forget to prepare for the next winter hit of weather!

Author: countrygirllifeonthefarm

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother that lives on a farm in Craig County, Virginia and I am retired. I love to cook, read, quilt, craft, garden, hunt and take long walks in the woods. I have one gorgeous teen granddaughter, a wonderful little grandson and two beautiful and caring children, boy & girl. I've been married to my farmer husband for 46 years and he's the "love of my life"!! I love doing things the "old" way such as canning, making maple syrup & cider, handcrafts and baking. I've taught myself to crochet, embroider, and quilt with help from my paternal grandmother. I could read until the cows come home. We live off the products we raise and hunt for the most part. We run 75 head of cattle on our farm, 30 chickens, three rabbits and one dog. I help my husband with the cattle, feeding the livestock, hauling in firewood, fence repair, and general maintenance on the farm. I was a stay-at-home mom to my children and then went to work when they finished high school. I was a cook at a School for At-Risk Teens and part-time substitute teacher. Then I started work at our local Farm Bureau and stayed there for 17 years. I worked at Virginia Tech for almost five years and decided to take early retirement in July of 2015. NOW, I'm a full-time farmwife and loving every minute of it! I love to read fiction and the Bible. I'm currently hooked on quilting novels and Annie's Attic mysteries. I started this blog in 2011 and have met so many interesting bloggers and have kept up with my friends through my blog. I love to hunt with my bow and rifle and with a camera. We hunt to fill the freezer and cellar but would never kill anything for the fun of it. I have friends and family all over the United States. Some of my ancestry last names are Bradley, Dickson, Hylton, and Rose. I've lost both of my parents to brain cancer and miss them very much. I have one sister and four living brothers. I was raised in Paint Bank VA and moved to New Castle VA when I married. I went to school in Waiteville, WV, Gap Mills, WV and New Castle Va with a short semester of college at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke VA.

11 thoughts on “A Taste of Frigid Weather”

    1. I envy your warmth but don’t care for anything over 75 degrees!! Winter I can handle except for the frigid winds that we seem to get with any low temperatures. We have another cold storm coming in on Saturday night with single farenheit digits all of next week. If the equipment holds out we’re ready!! Enjoy your sports and think of me when you get too warm for the sweltering heat!
      Love to you my Aussie friend!


  1. Now don’t get angry BUT here near Sydney and especially Sydney the hottest day for 80 years was recorded on Sunday……….the temperature at the Sydney Cricket ground where the 5th “Ashes” test match was on against the POMS, the temperature was 51 Celsius on the cricket pitch and at the tennis on the courts (uncovered) the temperature hit 55 Celsius.
    At Terrigal I just sweltered……………the aircon was on full blast and all windows were closed.
    Thankfully a cool change has moved in and this morning it is only around the very pleasant 25 Celsius………not the best for the beaches but lovely.

    I guess the cattle can survive but the feeding of them must be quite some arduous chore being out with bales of hay in the elements……….far too cold for me. I’ll take the heat of summer here any day over the freezing conditions that hit your area and the northern hemisphere.
    Aussies would die like flies if we ever got any of your frigid temperatures…..I being first on the list – ha ha!
    Keep warm and such think…………summer in 4 months!
    Your WARM Aussie mate


  2. Oh my gosh, Rita, you do such a good job of describing the challenges of living in frigid climes, and in the additional challenges that come with keeping your livestock fed, watered and sheltered. Of course, your pictures don’t show any great mounds of snow!! Close your eyes and imagine adding snow to the mix! You remind me of when I learned just how much water one cow (in this case our bull, since he was hogging the trough) drinks. We only had a few head of cattle, nothing like you, but our winters are out to test us every year. This particular year the water line to the barn that fed the trough froze, and before my husband could get it wrapped in heater coils, I had to carry water, one pail at a time, through the snow and wind to the trough at the fence. By the time I lugged it there and poured it, it was probably a half pail worth, which of course our bull slurped up as if it were a teaspoonful! I spent A LOT of that day carrying water through the snow to our little herd. Ah, those were the days! 😉 Stay warm. This too shall pass.


    1. Snow we are used to dealing with but snow with the wind and single digit temps was just shocking and hopefully we’re prepared if it returns. The tractors and trucks are now operational with new batteries, fuel and fuel additives to prevent gelled fuels.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my. Even better, let’s hope that you don’t get hit again at all! You have to admit that when it’s that cold the snow makes it prettier 😉 We are about to get two days of warm weather with heavy rain and freezing rain (the worst) on top of all our snow (going from 10F to 50F) before getting cold again. It’s not going to be pretty! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and for your livestock.


  3. I feel your pain Rita though not on the same scale only having animals that are housed when need be. But with the horses in all day, I’m ripping through my hay and especially at night over the longer period before breakfast. We have heated water buckets in their stalls and their outside trough as do the goats. The chicken coop we run heat lamps with one over the water to keep it from freezing. The rabbits have a heat lamp in their house and I wrap their house in heavy duty plastic so they are always toasty. They have an outside run but haven’t been coming out. Our electric bill is going to be through the roof but with the woodstove in the house, thankfully our gas bill won’t be! Stay warm. Tina


    1. We moved the chickens but had not had time to get the electricity to the building but Eddie promises to do it first thing in the spring and have all of the plumbing in our laundry re-worked. You wouldn’t believe the piping done by his family back in the 40’s and they used what they had, a royal mess but workable! The rabbits have lights in their cages for heat lamps but the bulbs were all old and afriad to use them. That has been remedied. I put the plastic around their hutches last winter but the fumes from their own feces was strong and I was afraid would make them sick so I didn’t do it this year. When the plastic is around it I can’t get to the litter under the hutches. I’m working on that! This is just the beginning of winter and now all I do is worry about the calves due to come in March and April!!!


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