With midday temps in the teens, winter on the farm today is biting cold with a stinging wind; all in the sweep of a sepia landscape. But how do our 54 goats fare on a day when we humans exalt in the modern inventions of forced air heating, on-demand hot water heaters and gore-tex?
Traditional loafing sheds provide our goats with a cozy space out of the wind and snow. We've allowed the bedding to accumulate this past month so there's now a foot thick layer of straw and fallen hay to provide a cushy place to lay off the cold ground. As most herd animals respire quite wetly, causing the accumulation of noxious odors and dampness in closed spaces that lead to respiratory problems, these buildings are open on one side and away from prevailing winter winds, providing our animals with a lot of fresh air.
We provide lots of good hay, and water tanks with de-icers so there's no freezing. On the coldest days, I haul 5 gallon jugs of hot water to the tanks as a treat because goats love warm water like we love our cup of tea.
Our spring born kids are a hoot when the first snow flies, and the extreme low temperatures guarantee a little hollering from them. We hand raise our kids so they look to us two-leggers for guidance and protection. I always make sure to get out and greet their "hey!" and "what's up with this?!" with a snuggle and rub to let them know "I know, I know, crazy isn't it?! Summer comes again, I promise, all good."
Humane care of livestock on our farm is creating an environment with elements that enhance growth and curiosity, providing the herd space and freedom for social interaction and natural behaviors, which allow them to thrive, even in the stress of winter's worst.
—Tammy, White Lotus Farms Herd Manager