Thursday, November 18, 2010

Preparing for Bad Weather

Winter has arrived early this year.  No doubt it's due to the La Nina cycle that we so desperately need up here.  La Nina brings cold and snow to Montana as well as cooler and rainier summers.  While not everyone likes that, I'm good because it means it's less likely the forests will burn in the summer.

But early winter conditions are tough.  We usually don't get the spate of below zero temperatures until mid-December and we're already looking at getting those next week.  Combined with snow almost every day, and we're looking at a winter that will be pretty tough if you don't prepare.

One of the major issues with Montana is the lack of daylight during this time of the year.  From about now to solstice, we're speeding away from light at about 2 to 3 minutes a day.  My chickens have slowed down or even stopped laying in many cases.  People who are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder really feel it up here.   Because I've been out in the wilds, and thereby in natural light, I haven't been affected by the season.  

I went to the feed store and picked up both layer feed and chicken scratch, which is mostly cracked corn.  Supposedly cracked corn is good for providing energy to birds to keep warm, but I really don't know how much science goes into that statement and how much is old wives' tales.

I bought Sid a heated water bucket.  So far he's not cared one bit about the weather, even lying out in the cold soaking rain and having snow fall on top of his coat.  (When I felt his body underneath the fiber, he was warm and dry).  I think the cold will be tough even for him, so I'll be keeping an eye on him during the worst parts and bring him in with the chickens if he starts looking uncomfortable.  I'll be feeding him more grain which will provide a lot of energy.

I suspect he'll be okay as he was treated as a pack llama and not a pet, but he's my llama, which means I'm a bit more careful just because. 

The snow up in the high country is pretty amazing.  We had over two feet of snow where we hunt and more expected, which means we won't be looking for elk in that place.  The basic logistics of getting back there combined with seeing no elk tracks means they left the high areas and we'll have to look for them in lower areas.  We saw another moose (a cow moose, this time) and some cagey mule deer, but nothing else.

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