The Weekly Digs #99

by Becky

Wednesday morning we woke up to an icy rain. At about 6:30am Cameron got in the car to go to the land and check on the animals. He texted me at 7:15am and said, “I made it, the roads are horrible.” He said he drove about 5 miles an hour the whole way because there was so much black ice. 

I checked the weather and then I realized that it wasn’t going to warm up. In the next 10 days, we were expecting ice, snow, and low temperatures near -10ºF. This is by far the coldest it has been in the last eleven years we’ve lived in Arkansas. 

At the land, Cameron couldn’t figure out how to get water to our cows. Our portable watering bin had frozen at the nozzle completely. Luckily the cows still had some slushy water left in their trough for the time being because Cameron had to leave for work.

Later that day, we talked about options for what to do and luckily we were able to come up with a back up plan. We decided to set up the fencing so the cows had access to the pond which had a layer of ice on it, but it was thin enough the cows could still access water.

After work, Cameron came home, ate dinner with us, and helped me put the kids to bed then set out again to set up the fencing. At about 2am I get a text that says “on my way home”. 

The next morning as he woke up he said he got the T-posts in but didn’t finish the rest. The cow’s water was now empty with the nozzle still being frozen and we were both starting to panic. I told Cam the only option now was to just let the cows out and lead them to the pond. They will just get to roam free. 

And by roam free, I mean they get access to 40 acres before they hit fencing. We have barb wire around the perimeter of our land and I am so grateful for it now. There are a few places where it needs to be patched but we hoped they wouldn’t find the weak points and escape. 

Cows roaming free in the backyard!

So Thursday morning, Cameron let them out and led them to the pond. He said they didn’t seem interested. I guess they weren’t thirsty yet? Perhaps they were getting some liquid from the ice and dusting of snow on the grass. And then Cam left for work again with the cows roaming free. He said they jumped around and were very happy. Haha.

On Thursday night, I went up to the land with Cameron (his vehicle is the only one with four wheel drive that could make it there in icy conditions). At this point it was dark so we drove around seeing if we could see the cows. We finally found them back by the hay bales next to my garden. We were glad to see they were still on our land.

They seemed content munching away on hay. Cameron walked down to our pond that is furthest north and shouted over to me, “The cows have been drinking from this pond, the ice is broken in several spots.” What good news! 

Our pond. We came back today and Cameron had to cut a hole for them with his chainsaw! It’s so cold the ice is now a few inches thick.

Cam took off the strings on one of the hay bales and pulled some of it down so the cows could have a warm place to lay. I’m always surprised at how smart animals are in general. The cows instinctively found the hay, water, and were able to create a little place to bed down near all the hay because the bales created a good wind break. I also love that they naturally stay together. 

As we were there, we watched the cows go down and get water a few times and then come back up to where the hay was, confident they were taken care of, we left to go home. 

In the garden: 

To get my garden fix, I’ve been starting even more seeds indoors. This week I did more spinach, a variety called Equinox. I also sowed cabbage (red express and golden acre) and pink celery.

Everything else is sprouting and looking good. I ended up tossing my first batch of Valencia onions, they were too affected by the damping off and I didn’t want to grow stunted onions. The Rossa Di Milano onions look good and strong. At least we will have red onions this year 🙂

The new batch of Valencia onion I sowed last week is off to a good start, they are sprouting now. Fingers crossed this batch works! 

We also took care to cover our fig tree with some hay. I don’t think I would have known to protect my fig tree but my sister Amy has done this for years using leaves. I remembered that I need to do this to my fig when I realized how cold it will be over the next week.

Amy protects hers before winter, I am a little late to the game but hopefully this will save my tree! (By the way, my sister started a homesteading blog recently too! You can find her blog HERE.)

House Progress:

I mentioned last week the guys who were doing our siding were missing in action. The boss decided to hire a new crew of guys who live 3 hours away in order to get the job done. 

They came up Tuesday and worked on it. Cameron and I were surprised to see they came up on Wednesday and Thursday too! They worked through the ice and cold which is impressive. We are grateful it is getting done. 

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