DH came home at about 2 am this morning. When he arrived in Muskegon after seeing many slid-offs and nearly being in an accident himself with the fuel tanker when a car spun out in front of him and hit the side wall, fortunately the dispatcher realised that it was just foul out there, and gave him a more local load. He went in early this morning, better to navigate awful roads in the daytime.
But damn, I needed him too today. In this weather the beasties eat more. I did the usual routine, cats first, then dogs, sheep hay, then sheep water, thank goodness we have the heated hose going to their trough makes it soooo much easier, then grain for the poultry. As all these last days they've run out looking for water as soon as I've fed them, decided to do their water first, especially as none had ventured out of the chicken house, except one pair of yellow legs I spied under the horse trailer, even the ducks and geese were still in their yard. Uncovered the tap, attached the hose and put water in their pond, plus some on the ground where the chickens usually drink. Then went and gave them their grain. So what do they do today, nary-a-one comes to get water ! Not a goose, duck or chicken. OK, so that water is now going to freeze, making the pond heavier to lift next time.
Cows still had some water, although the water de-icer didn't seem to be working. Check it, neither is the electric fence. Start filling the troughs, cattle milling around. Go check, yep, they need another bale. Tip the feeder up on it's side so that I can place the bale. Go start the tractor in the shed, let it roll out so that the fumes don't fug up the shed. See that the side of the roll-up door is completely out of the groove, again, note to self, need to fix that as the snow was coming in. Do another load of water for the cows while the tractor is warming up, position it to load the bale, but not before poking a hole in the guttering in the middle of the garage door frame with the exhaust of the tractor. Damn. Wheels slipping in the snow, manage to get the bale lifted in the middle of the bale spear. This is important as it has those 2 smaller arms at the sides to hold the bale in place. Drive v-e-r-y v-e-r-y slowly as I don't want to drop the bale. The buggy is next to the tap, stop the tractor to switch off the water of another load for the cows, get back on the tractor, move towards the gate. Stop again, get off to open the gate, all is going well. Thought so too soon. The bale pops off, and I have 2 cows, Star and Scotch ambling towards me to investigate the bale. No, no, no. Star is out, not too bad she's tame enough to get her back in easily, but Scotch slipped right past me on the tractor. Had to drive around the bale and actually pushed it into the pasture in front of the tractor, skidding it along the ground as I couldn't spear it deeply enough to lift. Tried but it just falls off again. Turn around, both Dolly and Pigtails were out as well. Damn. Dolly is OK, Pigtails another story altogether. They all amble towards the open shed door, and 8,000 lbs of barley. I shout at them, they pass, go towards the sheep and out of my view.
I struggle with the bale, the tractor wheels spinning and not getting traction. A 4WD would be soooo nice right about now, or my DH who could be dealing with this instead of me ! Eventually get it into sort of the correct position, have a few goes to get it turned onto it's bottom. Get off the tractor, cut the plastic cover and the netting, drag it off in the snow. Most of the cows are running up towards the woods at the back of the pasture, inside the fence but following the 3 cows that are disappearing into the old orchard. Just Star is still wandering around the back lawn, eating crabapples from the tree. Move the round bale feeder around the bale and tip it over, pulling the sides of the bale down to expose fresh hay. Drive out, chase Star back into the pasture, get Dolly around the open gate, into the pasture as well. By the time I've moved the tractor out of the way, Dolly is back out the pasture. Bloody cows. Close the gate. Still have Scotch and Pigtails rooting in the fallen apples up by the beehives, hoping they're not "pruning" my newly planted fruit trees, Dolly wandering out of site somewhere in the front garden. Put the tractor away, find the grain bucket with the bell in the horse trailer from when I delivered Pearl, fill it with barley, drive out with the buggy to get the Scottish Highlands back. Pigtails is eager to follow, Scotch is too busy eating fallen apples. Approach her with the bucket, let her take a mouthful of grain, turn and walk back to the buggy, Pigtails following. Drive off slowly, yippee, they're both following. Get to the gate, Star wants back out to the grain bucket. Pour some grain on the ground for her, entice Pigtails back in, Scotch has gone around the buggy and is now eating the crabapples. Circle around her and chase her in. Close the gate. OK, just need to go find Dolly. She sees me with the bucket and runs over happily to eat grain and I lead her back to the pasture.
Finish the last load of water, fortunately pouring it over the fence so don't have to navigate the open gate / escaping cows scenario again. Sshhewww, and I haven't even had a cup of tea yet. See that the cows have pushed the remaining core of the sheeps' bale over and it's uncovered, so go tug the tarp out from underneath it and re-cover the bale, giving the clumps the cows pulled out to the sheep. All in all it wasn't too bad and I only fell in the snow once.
And it's still snowing. Turn the heat on under the soup pot, switch the kettle on for my well earned mug of earl grey tea. Have breakfast of soup and Marmite soldiers, thawing out and girding my loins for the milking run I have to now do with Bambi. Looking out the front window here while I sit at the computer, I see Liquorice lying in the snow. Just by herself, and it doesn't even look as if she's chewing the cud. Funny girl.
Anni hasn't come on heat yet. She's probably waiting until the roads are totally impossible:)