I don’t know if you have heard but Texas got a little bit of snow this past week. Pipes froze and burst, the power grid came close to collapsing and the toilet paper was once again nowhere to be found at the store. That strange feeling we had last March came creeping back into every Texan’s mind.
The True Spirit of Texas
Of course, no true Texan would let a little thing like the greatest winter event in their history keep them down! People who had capable vehicles made store runs for those who couldn’t, they helped rescue stranded vehicles and opened their doors to those who needed warmth and water. This is the true Texas spirit… love thy neighbor. God bless Texas.
We knew we had to prepare for cold weather so we all went down and got to work preparing. We made the animals first priority. The Chick Mahal received a new layer of straw and pine shavings after a good rotation of the existing bedding. We employ the deep litter method to keep our flock warm in the winter months. You can read more about this method here: We really like it because it’s easy to maintain and creates a comfortably warm area for the chickens to sleep. Plus it’s great to add to the compost heap! Our Guineas and our Cream Legbars prefer the smaller coops we had before we accumulated a flock of 51.
The goats were next. We have a substantial well-maintained barn with 8 stalls that were set up for horses before we moved it. So our little Nigerian dwarf goats have a little luxurious love nest with plenty of room to sleep play and lounge. We laid extra straw and hay and pine shavings and kept the barn doors closed. With the wind chill being the biggest threat it was assuring that they were kept out of it. They had absolutely no interest in leaving that barn all week.
The beds got the last treatment. We covered them with fitted bed sheets as per recommendation from our lady at the local farm and feed store. We didn’t really know how bad it was going to get. We considered fleece but it was too late for any to arrive on time. I’m very happy I didn’t dispose of all the extra sheets when we moved!
At the beginning of January, we had a very rare snow day. One day only, it was beautiful and perfect for snowballs and snowmen. The best part: it was only around for a day. So when we were informed an extended cold snap was expected in February we were kind of excited for a little bit more snow.
It started off with a week of cold weather, we had one day that hit above freezing. The day after the snow started. It only lasted Saturday and a bit on Sunday in our part of the state but it added up to about 6 inches. All around the state people were hit with snow or freezing rain and sleet. Ice accumulated and every single county in Texas was under a storm watch, this was getting to be historic. Friends as far south as Houston had frozen pipes and pools.
The Friday and Saturday before the storm we welcomed 8 more chickies to the family making 12 in the brooder. These little guys have no idea how lucky they were to hatch when they did. Sunday night we lost power…
Early Monday morning (like 2:30 AM early) we got up and moved the brooder next to the fireplace. This was the only way we could keep these new hatchlings warm and alive. Chick Watch had started. Every hour on the hour we lost power from 30-45 minutes. Nighttime was the longest making sure the fireplace was topped off with wood. Our John Deere compact tractor is now an official part of the family.
Let me pause and say we were so GRATEFUL we maintained some power through this entire event. Our electric company really came through for us and our neighbors, they were informative and transparent. We never lost power for more than two hours at a time.
The next week was the same routine, warm oatmeal with herbs and spices for the animals, coop checks, barn checks, pipe checks, well checks, firewood gathering, and lots of snuggles. As I said, we were very fortunate with our situation because a lot of our fellow Texans suffered greatly. We thank God for his blessing that week.
I sit here now one week after the snow began and the farm looks completely different. 70 degrees sunny and mostly green. They have a saying here in Texas “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. It was time to assess the damage. So far we have accounted for the following:
- No frozen/burst pipes
- No water damage
- No roof damage
- Chimney needs desperately to be cleaned
- One burst pipe, superficial, should be easy to fix
The Well House
- Cracked Pipes
- Broken pressure gage
- Electrical fixes
- So far I think we should get away with moderate damage, but the water still flows so thankful for that!
They look like they have seen better days but Dixondale Farms says with some sunshine and TLC they should bounce back!
The Raised Beds
We took some real hits here:
- Carrots and beets that were so beautiful look pretty bad, probably dead
- Garlic looks not so good, they JUST started sprouting, but some survived
- The Kale, Lettuce, Collards, and Broccoli took some damage but they look better after some sun and water
- The real winners: The Swiss Chard and the Pak Choi, they look so good all things considered
Those fitted sheets may look like a band-aide on a surgical wound but I am confident that they helped keep some of our gardens alive. The hoop house did a great job preserving what it could.
The goats are doing great! They enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air. We also confirmed our doe is preggers so I will be knee-deep in all things goat labor and delivery for the next few weeks.
The chickens did great too! No frostbite on the hens or the younger rooster but we did get some without two larger roosters. Our Barred Rock “The Rock” and our cream Legbar “Blood Rock”.
I read so much conflicting information on prevention that we didn’t put any paste/oil on to protect their big beautiful combs and waddles. They didn’t start to look bad until the last few days. The coops were warm dry and well ventilated but they refused to be in the coop in the daytime. With the windchill hitting well below zero on some days our efforts to get them to shelter were futile. So we enforced the lean-to’s we have set up with bags of mulch and leftover plywood sheets.
Today we treated our beloved proud boys with some Vetricyn and will continue to until they heal up. No frostbitten feet thank goodness! If you are wanting to know what to make sure you have for your flock to make them comfortable in the winter weather we suggest the following:
- A well-insulated and ventilated coop
- Access to fresh water (we will be investing in a water-warmer for sure, topping off the water was not fun)
- Lots of scratch grains and carbs to keep their energy up because they are expending so much energy to keep warm)
- A few cabbage heads when it gets warm to lift their little chicken spirits
Spring, you are welcome anytime!
We are happy that that experience is behind us and that we were prepared for the icy lockdown. We pray for those who did not fare as well and we offer any assistance to those who need it if we can.
While we are glad to say goodbye to this snow, we will always remember that gorgeous glittery white snow that blanketed our little farm. We are truly blessed.