Monday, January 9, 2017

My Chore Sled


 I swear this sled saves me an hour doing chores in the morning. It is a back saver. We knew when we moved here, we were going to eventually have to get a heavy duty sled. The snow was deep when we moved in and it kept snowing every few days but that was March. Winter was almost over. Last year the winter was unusually warm -loved it! I did not love the drought filled summer that followed where our water well level went way down. So really we have not needed this sled until this year. The snow is piling high once more.

















The place we moved to has a barn with an upper loft. The loft being for Barbies. You know Barbie dolls. The main floor held tools and fire wood. Yes, the older couple was into construction and dolls. That is why on the north side of the house the only source of water is one lone spigot. See what looks like a tiny little stuck straight up in the snow with a short hose draped off to the side? No, well, I can't blame you since it is quite small and a lo...ng ways from the barn. Look again. It is on the left side of the picture almost to the edge. This north side of the property drifts big time. Luckily for us, the snow does not have a tendency to drift all the way up to the side of the house, which leaves a bit of an alley to walk. Just beware that both ends of this alley are capped with drifts.


 Typically one or the other of us (depending if Kirk is off work or not.) heft two four gallon buckets at a time - six in total through this alley way
Now note the distance through the snow to the hay feeder on the right where Sam, the beef is. Look for the two legs and no head figure in the photo, that is Sam.  (I assure you the beef has four legs and a head when you get closer.) Sam and the calves require three buckets a day of water. With my bulky weight carrying two, four gallon buckets at a time, I do not glide over the drifts but sludge through them tipping one way and then another as my feet break through. This makes it a miserable trip as the water sloshes on to my pants and then of course freezes. Not fun!!With the sled, I can place a pitchfork and six bucket and slide to the spigot. In this cold weather you turn it on very, very sparingly. When the spigot turns off, water inside flows back down into the ground. You put gravel at the base of the spigot in the ground near the pipe that runs to the well. This is to help the water flow away from the pipe. If you turn on and off the spigot, then more and more water flows to this area and builds up,. It freezes before it can all flow away and you end up with a spigot that does not work until spring or a long winter thaw. The long winter thaw rarely happens. Our water lines run six feet in the ground because that is just below where the grounds. This is why I take all the buckets at once and fill them.


At the spigot, I load three water buckets onto the sled along with the pitchfork; and haul it to Sam and the three calves. In Wyoming, you water the animals first so they drink before the water in the pan freezes again. If it is really cold, that means it begins to form crystals in just a few minutes. I then slide the sled over and fill it with hay and glide to the hay feeder. This is done a couple times. It saved the falling through the snow over and over during the eight trips. It also saves the fight with the wind to keep the hay on the pitchfork.


I then return to the spigot to load more buckets and head to the barn to feed the goats, rabbits, cats, and chicken. Fewer and easier trips, saves my lungs as I don't breathe so deeply the cold air. Before the sled. that would have been three trips to get all the buckets and pitchfork back to the barn area.


















After I water, I then slide the sled to the barn hay yard where I fill it with hay and glide on over to the goat's hay feeder. Pitch fork by pitch fork of hay bucking drifts is not fun either and it takes a lot of hay to fill the feeder. .






 


On the left side of the picture is the buck pen. The one the two bucks stayed in all last winter. The winter with little snow. It is now packed full, most of it four feet high. For most of the thirty-one years of raising goats, we had no buck, preferring to borrow one for a short time. Now that we have our own, we have learned that one, nice buck will live amicably with the does all winter if the does are already bred. But two bucks will spend all their time competing for the girls' attentions. Someone will get hurt and usually it is  a doe as they desperately try to get out of range. I'm referring to the large dairy goats, not the small breeds of goats that cycle twelve months of the year. As for them I have no idea. They are a totally different can of worms as they say. That is why we sold a buck this year. The goat stalls are much warmer and with four closed in together, they stay pretty cozy even on the coldest nights. It does mean a lot of cleaning stalls and the sled is used for that too. We load up and haul off the manure to the south garden. The north garden is buried under three to four feed of snow.
Only a small area of the goat pen has no snow. On this morning the calves are in the pen as they have been spending the 30 some below zero wind chill nights in the barn. They are not nearly as tough as Sam yet.
This is the sled we bought. It is the smallest of the pro series.
It fits through our smallest gates, holds the limit of what we can pull, and is thicker in construction that the smaller non-pro series. They sell these sleds to snowmobilers and ranchers. They are great to pull behind a four wheeler, a snowmobile, or a horse. A couple years ago, we went sledding in a large sized one pulled behind a snowmobile across the hay meadows. It was a wild ride!! 


 Kirk did this set up and I love it.  The sled just comes with the holes drilled. How do those of you in deep snow country get your livestock chores done? I could use some tips.  




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