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When we moved to the farm there was an energy free cattle waterer sitting in the granary. One of the main goals of putting in the waterlines was to be able to use it this winter. I was finally able to do so a couple weeks ago.

I made a "pad" using rock instead of concrete. This will help to keep it from turning into a mudhole around the waterer.  I started out buying bags of gravel and rock from Menard's but eventually got smart and bought crushed rock from the quarry. Much, much cheaper. Here's the pad with some gravel in it: (the waterer is the gray and red thing, it has a ball in it that the cattle push down to get access to the water. The ball keeps the cold air out and helps to keep it from freezing)

 Here it is after I had put the crushed rock in. It's been a few days and it's holding up pretty well so far. Of course, I used scrap lumber lying around the farm, so I'm sure it won't last forever. I added the piece of tin to help serve as a wind break. Not sure if it does any good but it sounded good...

Watering animals in the winter is not an easy task. Right now the hogs and poultry are drinking out of rubber pans like these. When it starts to get really cold, it won't take long for the water to freeze. Since I do chores twice a day, it's not a big deal but it sure would be nice if they had access to water regardless of the temperature.

 I found this on Craigslist the other day and couldn't pass it up. I got it for about 40% of the retail price and it's never been used. These energy free drinkers do not come cheap but they are perfect for a setup like ours where we can't have electric water heaters in all the waterers. It's nothing fancy, just a super-insulated waterer but it should work really well for us.  This one is for hogs. I'm curious to see if the piglets can use it yet. Unfortunately, I didn't put underground valves with earth tubes near the hog pens (since the hogs will be relocated in the spring) so it'll probably have to wait until next winter.

Farmer Jon  – (January 4, 2012 at 6:40 AM)  

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3. I'm attempting to integrate the blog into our farm website.

I'm actually typing this comment from the farm website!

Rich  – (January 7, 2012 at 12:56 PM)  

I'm not sure how the snow storms are in Nebraska, but are you going to have a problem with snow drifting around your waterer with a windbreak so close?

I was feeding hay today and happened to remember that for the last few winters, we've had bad snowstorms when the snow has drifted so much around the hay that it is difficult to get to it without doing some digging (usually we get a bunch of snow and then the temperature drops for a week so that the drift almost freezes solid).

So, I usually move some hay before a snowstorm so that it is running east-west instead of north-south so I don't need to dig out hay from snow drifts. I hate to think about trying to dig a waterer out of a snowdrift.

Farmer Jon  – (January 8, 2012 at 6:36 AM)  

I might try to move some round bales to act as an initial windbreak. Although, removing the windbreak (piece of tin) might suffice and would be much easier.
The art and science of snowdrifting is an area I am lacking (one of many). I've seen enough snow/snowdrifts to last a lifetime but I can't say that I ever took the time to observe them. I guess that's yet another side effect of living/working "in town" for too long. And before that, when I was living on the farm, I was more concerned about finding the best drift to build a fort in, rather than what caused it to form. So I'm actually looking forward to gaining some valuable snow knowledge and experience this winter. I know i'll curse those words once the first blizzard blows through but i'll be better off because of it, in the long run.
All I need now is snow...

Farmer Jon  – (January 11, 2012 at 7:30 AM)  

Thanks for sharing the info about your operation. It sounds like you have a nice setup. And I like your open-minded mentality. If only everyone could be that way. By the way, what happened to Yeoman Lawyer's blog?

Rich  – (January 12, 2012 at 1:09 PM)  

"...your open-minded mentality. If only everyone could be that way..."

Thank you, I'd never expect to be described as open-minded, (stubborn, opinionated, or long-winded I would expect). But, I have come to believe that if you want to be successful in agriculture you are going to need to be open to change, flexible in your methods, and always trying to learn (so maybe I am open-minded).

I don't know specifically what happened to Yeoman's blog, but he has had 3 or 4 different blogs in the past. He writes for a while and then takes down the blog (I think he has written on his blog that he writes for himself and not the readers). When you reach a point that you feel like you have to write something to keep the readers engaged, it becomes a chore to keep the blog up instead of a way to express your thoughts.

Hopefully, he will start writing again sometime in the future.

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