Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Taking Care of the Animals in Winter

During the winter, I house the rabbits and hens in the large pens that used to be the tiger shelters when the lodge was a zoo. It has chain link fence on three sides, and faces southwest, so they are sheltered from the colder winds from the north. Unfortunately, it doesn't get much sunshine, so it stays cool in there all winter. The chickens have a heated water tank, but it is not practical for the five individual water bottles I need for the rabbits. So, I walk down to the pens 2-3 times a day, carrying a bucket of boiling water, to thaw the rabbits' water bottles. This hadn't bothered me, until we got snow a month ago that has continued and won't go away. Now I wade through waist deep snow everyday to get to the pens. It doesn't help shoveling a path, because the wind just drifts it back over. We have a base layer of over 4 feet right now, after last nights additional 8 inches. Tonight we are expected to get another 6 inches. Oh joy!

Here is a rabbit in her pen with fresh water and hay to keep warm.

The rabbits are housed on the left side, with the clear plastic to block the wind. I have kept the chicken side opened for them. But this weekend we saw night time temperatures near zero, so I thought they might like a little extra protection for a couple of days. When the snow starts to melt, I'll clear some of the grass in front of the pen for the chickens. I let them free range, even in the winter. They don't care much for deep snow though.

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