Safely Cut Pond Ice

| 2/14/2014 3:13:00 PM

I'm a summertime girl. I really love sunshine, working hard and getting really hot. It doesn't bother me. When I've been working hard, nothing is better than inhaling a quart of ice tea or biting into that cold watermelon and cantaloup chilling in the fridge.

Just as much as I love summer and sunshine, I dislike winter, clouds and cold. I wear wool, layer clothing, and bundle up as much as possible to keep from getting chilled. In my mind, nothing is more uncomfortable than getting chilled!

Winter 2014

Winter's Silver Lining?

But, being the eternal optimist that I am, I think there are some bright sides to this bitter cold winter. It was (finally) a good hay season last summer, which makes it easy to feed the cattle and keep their bellies warm! Fortunately, we haven't had any freezing-rain storms that have taken out the electricity. That can certainly make a bad winter even worse. I can't help but think that all the sub-zero temperatures that we have endured this winter, which has not been the norm in the very mild winters that we have had the last few years, is helping kill bugs, germs, and other “bad” imports that have had an easy time surviving our previous mild winters. I am also in hopes that some weeds that have become “perennial,” because their roots haven't been froze out, will die as well.

Frozen Ponds?

I won't claim to be an expert on winter survival on the farm, but I have learned a few things that may be helpful to some who have less experience. Making sure livestock have water during sub-freezing temperatures is probably one of the most important tasks as a farmer. Unless you have an indoor, heated water source that the animals can access, some other high-tech water feature, or spring-fed pool, then it is necessary to come up with some kind of routine, or process that isn't too time-consuming, or dangerous to get water to the animals.

A tank with a faucet that is left dripping won't freeze up unless it gets really cold. Tank thawers, which are a floating electric heat element that keeps the water from freezing, work really well, but they do use up a lot of electricity. The cords need to be watched closely that they are not loose, so that animals don't chew on them or accidentally wrap their heads around them, etc – so it is best if they are kept out of reach, but close enough that it keeps the water thawed where they drink.

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