95 percent ready

First snow this year

We woke this morning to the season’s first real snow.

The layer on the lawn was gone by midday, but a dusting of snow lingered on fallen logs along the hiking trail this afternoon. It’s not skiing season yet, but it’s only a matter of weeks at this point.

Fortunately, M was busy last weekend getting the barn ready for our first winter with the goats.

First, he covered the opening to the downstairs run in with a plexiglass window, reinforced by a single wooden bar across the middle.

Winter window

Since the goats are used to using this window as a doorway, we were worried they’d try to bash their way through or accidentally hit it when they first discovered it, so we made an “X” of blue painters’ tape across it the first day. The next morning, the window was clean and there were bits of blue tape all over the run in bedding. I guess the goats figured out that it was a window.

Next, he finished protecting the upstairs windows with plexiglass so that we can close them and keep the winter winds out.

Plexi window upstairs

We used old glass windows in the upstairs stalls and installed them fairly high on the walls, but we knew they weren’t high enough to be out of the way of the hooves of inquisitive goats, so this summer we put a sheet of plexiglass across the east-facing windows so that the glass would be safe. We never did get to the two south-facing windows, though, because when they’re open, they swing up and completely out of the way of hooves. The glass is only vulnerable when the windows are closed, so they’ve remained open until this week. Now we can close all the windows when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing.

And finally, M spent a day and an evening building us a second beautiful hay rack out of reclaimed barn board from the house. This one is upstairs, so once the snow gets thick, we can choose to have the upstairs open to the goats and we can do all the feeding from inside the barn instead of sliding down the hill and around the barn to get into the run in.

Upstairs hay rack

The hay shelter is full to the ceiling with sweet second-cut hay, and we’ve stocked up on grain, minerals, and other goodies.

And yet…

I wrote “95%” because we’re not completely ready. We thought we had the winter watering figured out, for this year, at least, but I bought the wrong length of heavy duty extension cord (too short), and the submersible water tank heater I thought had a thermostat to control when it turns on and off seems to not have the thermostat.

For the time being, we carry a bucket of hot water out with us at each barn visit so we can melt morning ice and give the goats a warm drink in the evening (Willow and Albus particularly seem to relish a nice, hot drink). We just need another week or so to get the tank heater set up properly. Let the deep snow stay away just a little longer.

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