I'm a small farmer on a permaculture farm. I raise meat rabbits, and meat goats, to sell to customers. We also raise alfalfa to feed the animals, and rapeseed to make biofuel to run our trucks and tractors.
So how about a day in my life in February. I live in Idaho, high mountain desert, at 4700+ feet elivation. In February the land here is hard as concrete, and temperatures can dip to NEGATIVE 60 degrees (F) with the wind chill. So I shouldn't have much to do, with the land being frozen, right?
Start of day:
Midnight...get up, don 5 layers of clothing to avoid frostbite that can happen in just 10 minutes of this weather. Grab flashlight, and go check goat herd, and see if any does (female goats) are kidding. (Goats kid twice a year, once in nice warm weather, once in completely misserable weather)
No kids, no does in obvious labor. Go inside, take off clothes, sleep two hours.
2AM...Get up, and don the five layers of clothes, check does again. No kids, no does in labor.
4AM...Get up again, and dress, check does, find two nearly frozen kids, and another doe in labor. Grab frozen kids, run to house, fill sink with HOT water, immerse kids, except for noses. Give mouth to snout to one kid. Both revive, wrap in warm towels, and put in front of fire in a laundry basket. Put coat, hat, boots, ect back on, and run out to check doe in labor. Towel off first kid, spray navel with iodine. Wait for second kid to be born. Dry kid and spray navel. Doe starts to expell afterbirth, so no more kids from her. Find rotten mother of first kids, wrestle her to small holding pen, milk some colostrum, and go inside, and give first two kids a bottle with their mothers colostrum. It's now 5:30AM.
Forget going back to bed for 30 minutes. Hubby already up, and dressed, about to leave for work. He will be gone for 12 hours.
Eat a fast breakfast, and go out at 6AM to check does again, and start feeding stock. Find four more does in labor. Wind begins to pick up. Take all kids into house as they are born, because windchill has dropped the temperature to a dangerous negative 50 (F). Break ice on watertroughs for both goat herds, and horses. The tank heaters cannot keep up with the windchill, and keep the ice off the troughs.
Feed hay to 100 goats, and 5 horses. Haul the first round of waterbottles out to the rabbit barn. Bring more kids in. By 9AM done with feeding chores, and have 8 neborn kids warming in towels and laundry baskets in front of the fire. Already completely exsausted, but give the first two some more colostrum. Fall asleep on couch, holding baby goat.
Wake up at 10:15AM, when warmed up kids begin to bellow for mothers. Take the kids out in pairs to their mothers, and make sure they are nursing.
Make sure the stupid doe is taking care of her kids (first born of the day). She is not doing a good job. Mark her down to be sent to slaughter once her kids are weaned, no time for stupid mothers. Break ice on water troughs.
Go inside, nap until 11:30, get up, grab a fast lunch, dress, and out the door by noon. Check does, none in labor. Bring only half of newborns back in to warm up, the rest are doing fine, their mothers have them fat with milk, and inside the shelters in the deep bedding.
12:45, put meat, carrots, onions and potatoes (all grown on our farm) into crockpot, with some spices to make a stew for dinner. Pull the electric stone mill off the shelf (it's heavy) and grind wheat. Set the bread to baking for dinner. Realize I'm still starving, because of all the extra callories the cold are sapping from me. Make large roast beef and cheese sandwhich on homemade bread, and eat it while reading a book.
Start laundry, and try to make a dent in Mt. Washmore. With towels from baby goats, and all the extra clothes we wear in the winter it piles up FAST.
Hang wool socks and hats to dry on rack infront of pellet stove. Add two more 40 pound sacks of wood pellets. Haul two more sacks 40 pound sacks of wood pellets in from the sunporch (that means three flights of stairs).
Fill five buckets with alfalfa pellets, beet pulp, and some COB (corn, oats & barley) bring into kitchen and fill with hot water to begin to soak for mash for evening feeding of horses. The horses have no shelter, so it means feeding extra callories so they stay warm in the winter.
Unload and load dishes, concider doing some housework, instead sit down on couch to rest and read book. Fall asleep almost immediatly. Awakened by baby goat climbing out of laundry basket and bellowing for it's mother at 2:20pm.
Get dressed, and gather babies, and take to their mothers. Help a doe in labor give birth to huge kid, with gentle pulling. She gives birth to two more kids. I dry each one, spraying their umbilical cords, allowing them to nurse, and then wrapping them in a clean towel and stuffing them inside my coat to keep warm. Take newborns inside to completely warm and dry by fire.
Go back outside with second haul of rabbit water bottles of the day. Haul frozen ones inside.
Go back in with goats to check temperature of new kids to make sure they are not chilled. This is done by removing glove and sticking finger in kids mouth. Warm kids should have nice toasty mouths. Chilled kids will fell like your sticking your finger into refrigerated meat. Find two chilled kids, grumble because they are not syblings. Have to haul chilled kids, and their syblings into the house. You cannot leave just one kid with the doe, or she might decide she only has one, and will not take the second one when you bring it back.
Go back outside, and shovel snow off front stairs as it's really built up. Wind is making it snow sideways. Impossible to keep snow off of face when outside today.
Switch more laundry, put more animal towels in, and fold clean ones.
4pm, put headlamp flashlight over hat as it's now pretty dark with the storm, this leaves both hands free. Find two more newborns, who are fat with milk (good mother) but their ears are "crunchy" because they already have frostbite. Carry them inside, carry a couple of warmed up kids outside, and give to correct mother. Feed 100+ goats, and break ice on water trough. Drag large work sled over to front door. Haul 5 buckets of horse mash out of kitchen. Buckets weigh about 20 pounds each, with water added. Drag sled and mash buckets down to winter horse corral. Dump snow and ice out of each horses feed pan, and dump warm mashes in. Put 120 pound bale of hay into horses feed rack. Break ice on horses water trough (that has TWO tank heaters!). Misjudge, and endup plunging right gloved hand into watertrough and ice, up to wrist. Pull out immediatly, and pull wet leather glove lined with thinsilate off. Hand is already dead white in this wind chill. Struggle and get hand pulled inside of coat, unzip bibbed overalls, unbutton stomach of shirt with other hand, and pull longjohns and t-shirt up. Place dead white, ice cold hand against stomach, and cover back up.
Collect up buckets and pull sled back with one hand, and open and close all gates with one hand. Go inside and pull off some of outer winter clothes, and go into bathroom, and begin to run warm water over frozen claw. Cry due to pain of returning blood circulation. Hand turns a brilliant cherry red, and throbs with burning pain.
Heat up gelpack in microwave, and wrap hand in towel, with hot gelpack. Dress back into outer winter gear, and go back outside to feed our five working farm dogs.
Watch in complete disbelief as customers pull up. It's someones birthday...they MUST have a goat. Go inside and fetch the container witht he butchering knives, plastic bags, paper towels, and soap. Pull clean dry gloves over my still painful hand. Go back outside, and listen to what the customers want. Go into the goat pen, and pick out a fine four month old buckling, who's so large I have a hard to carring him through the snow.
Set up the lights, so the customers can butcher in the dark. Listen to them complain non-stop about the bitter cold (they are desert people from another country). Concider throttling them, but decide it would be bad for business, and it's not a good idea to make business decisions in a sleep deprived state (this is a joke people).
Haul hot water out by the gallons, for my customers, so they can clean knives, hands and goat organs as they butcher.
Husband comes home at 6pm. Customers have just left, and I'm still cleaning up the last of the butchering items, to make sure they do not disapear into the snow.
Show hubby where the snow is drifting high, and the goats will be able to walk out by morning. Hubby starts tractor, and makes trenches, and piles snow up, in two parallel lines. This works as a snow fence, and the snow drifts elsewhere now.
Take the third round of water bottles out to the rabbit barn, and feed and water our two outside cats. Hubby plows driveway too, or by morning it will be impassible. I bring in more baby goats that have been born during all of this.
By 7:45pm we shed our outer gear and sit down to dinner. We talk for a while about the upcoming planting season, read for a while, and I then take all the babies outside, hubby helps.
There have been 16 baby goats born thus far today. I don't yet know it, but that is all that will be born today. At 9:45, we take laundry baskets outside, and round up all 16 babies, and bring them inside to be by the fire. At 10 pm we turn on the TV for the first time that day. We roll our eyes when they talk about Brittney Spears, and wonder why a young mother who has serrious drug problems is "news." We watch the weather reports. After about 15 minutes the TV is off....we only wanted the weather reports.
We fall into bed at about 10:20PM, completely exsausted.
Answered By: Bohemian_Garnet_Permaculturalist - 4/10/2008