Sunday, January 5, 2014

Preparations for Below-Zero Weather

Like many others across the country we are getting ready to experience temperatures not seen for possibly decades.  I spent most of the day today preparing for temperatures forecast to be well below zero.  Although we have grid electricity, our water, natural gas, and back-up power generation are "private" and are maintained by us. 

Our water system, which consists of spring water pumped to a cistern, has a few vulnerable points that must be heated to prevent freezing.  Generally a light bulb is all that is needed but that must be checked to be sure no bulbs are burned out. 

Our free natural gas is pretty much maintenance free thanks to a well thought-out initial set up when installed by the drilling company.  Natural gas, which generally contains some moisture, is always subject to freezing, either in a low spot or at the regulator.  Fortunately that has never happened but we have not yet encountered temperatures well below zero so only time will tell if we will have a problem.  Just in case of a gas outage, we have our back up wood stove.  Tomorrow I will bring up a few armloads of wood from the woodshed to the house.

I also took the opportunity today to "exercise" our natural gas generator just make sure it was charged and ready to go.  For our electrical  backup we have a large portable generator converted to natural gas.  The wonderful thing about that is that one never has to fill the tank and it always seems to start easily as long as the battery is charged.  For more about our generator setup read about the The Quest For Power.

Don charged the battery in the old Toyota farm truck and made sure it would start.

By far the most time was spent on preparing the goat facilities.  Our barns are open to the South to capture warmth and light from meager winter sun. During extreme weather I cover the openings with tarps to keep out wind and blowing snow.  With this extreme cold due to arrive tomorrow, I closed up other windows and doors and stacked hay bales to eliminate most drafts.  I also hung a few heat lamps and brought a lot of hay from the main hay barn to the animal barns.  This will be used for eating and for making a deep layer of hay on the floor for warmth.  Goats generate body heat by digesting roughage so they will also have access to warm water which will encourage them to eat and drink.

Here is what the Nigerian barn looks like:


The other barn looks like this:
Not very pretty but it works.  Hopefully by Wednesday when the weather moderates all the goats will have weathered the cold temperatures with no ill effects.


  1. The goat barn looks so cozy. It looks like the goats will lay next to each other to keep warm also. Is that right?

    1. Usually my 5 spring kids that were raised together will sleep in a pile. The adults seem to sleep by themselves. I hope they all decide to cuddle tonight. Maybe they will cuddle up to the large white furball (Heidi).