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January 2013


January 21, 2013

Well, this week is predicted to be coldest stretch of weather we have had since we opened our barn doors. It is slated to be 0 or below zero every night this whole week, barely getting out of the single digits during the days. This will put several systems to the test....

First - the greens in the unheated greenhouses. They are "cozy" with their row covers hugging the ground, pulling out critical warmth from the earth below them. This radiant heat coming from the ground is captured by the internal covers, creating a small micro-climate that allows the plants to stay alive - the soil temperatures shouldn't fall below 40 degrees, so the root systems will stay alive. When I checked under the covers this morning, it was 0 outside and 40 under the covers. Surely it will fall as we get colder and colder, so it will be interesting to see how far we fall!

Second - the unheated barn. We will keep our dairy cows in the milking barn most of the days and all night. This should assure that the barn will stay around 35-40 degrees, so water lines won't freeze, and so the milkers are not expending too much energy staying warm, and can channel that energy to milk. We are buttoning up some of the windows and vents and hay bale wall we use to keep the cold out, we had to open some of those in the past few weeks when we had well ABOVE average temps. It is the swings in temps that make things a little crazy!

Third - the bakery. The bakery is located in the old dairy barn - extension. The bakery is heated and finished. We don't have much to worry about here, except how high our heating bill will rise over the next few day!!

Fourth - watering systems for our beef herd - which is located outside their shed, so we need to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn't ever freeze over, not allowing our herd to freely drink. Of course our animals need to stay hydrated more than ever during these cold temperatures!

Fifth, the Pigs - we have them snuggled into a huge, deep mound of bedding hay. They pile up with each other and are totally protected from the elements. They are cozy and comfortable.

Last - US! We are warm enough, when we work we protect our digits and noses and at home, we also raise the heat slightly.

I just gave a reference for a former student of mine to work in a greenhouse company up in the Northwest Territories in Canada. When I talked to the guy on the phone he told me it was -30 or 40 with 60 kilometer winds!! When I told him it was 0 here he said, SOUNDS LOVELY!! Perspective....

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