We had a new low temperature record here on our farm a couple nights ago, when we noticed it got down to 9 degrees F. Likely it went even lower, but we ended up going to bed. During the daytime highs, it's only gotten up to about 15 degrees the past two days.
While we didn't get a lot of snow during this first winter storm of the season (only about four inches), it has been a lot colder than we are used to. Of course, we left the water dripping in all our sinks to avoid any frozen pipes (we don't want a repeat of an earlier year when the pipes burst under the house). We've had the pellet stove and wood stove going continuously along with space heaters in several rooms. Even so, it's only about 55 degrees in most of the house, so we're bundled up in warm clothes.
The chickens and ducks don't enjoy the cold. The ducks dislike the snow way more than the chickens. I ran a long extension cord from the garage and plugged in a hard plastic heating pad for the ducks to sit on. Their feet are their biggest issue, as they have a lot of surface area on their webbed feet, so the snow really affects them. Ducks will run into the snow and then immediately sit down to cover their feet and try to warm them up with their body heat. Poor ducks.
We only gave the ducks and chickens one large water bowl to share, and have been filling it with hot water every 3-4 hours or so. This makes it so we don't have to carry as much water from the house, and also they don't need as many water bowls when it's snowy. We usually give the ducks a pool of water, but with the freezing temperatures, we don't want them getting wet. So, to prevent the ducks from trying to swim in the bowl (which they will do even in the cold), I nested two other metal bowls inside the larger water bowl. It's worked great so far. Normally their water gets muddy because the ducks dig in the dirt and then drink with mud in their mouths. But, with everything frozen, the water is staying clean.
The creek has been fuller than usual due to all the earlier rain we had. Once the temperatures warm up and the snow melts, it will rise even higher. I noticed that the freezing temperatures have caused ice to form on the rocks in the creek, where the water eddies and pools a bit.
We've been monitoring our honeybees to see if a large die-off has occurred. So far, we have not observed too many dead bees around our two hives. I also look inside the small hole at the bottom of the hive to see if it's blocked with dead bees. Last, to see if the bottom board of the hive is stacked with dead bees, I will push a twig inside the opening and feel around. It seems okay so far, so we're hoping the extra ventilation we gave them this year is helping them stay alive. If a die-off does occur, we are prepared to harvest all the honey. Our honey stores are running low, with just one small jar left.
Hope you all are staying warm and safe this winter.