A recurring early winter farm chore is chipping ice out of the outdoor water buckets.
While the winter has been very mild so far (it was in the mid-60s on Thanksgiving and the forecast is for around 60 on Christmas) and we have so far avoided any significant snow fall, the temperatures have still occasionally dipped below freezing overnight. While the goats and chickens can handle temperatures below freezing without much of a problem, they still need access to water.
This means having to chip the ice out of their water buckets to give them access to liquid water.
Here is a solid piece of inch-thick ice removed from one of the water buckets – I managed to remove almost the entire ice block from the top of the bucket in one piece.
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We are usually able to break the top layer of ice with a few punches or by using a nearby stick or rock. So far, the whole bucket has not frozen at once.
It only takes a few minutes to remove the ice. However, it is difficult to remove all of the ice chunks completely from the bucket as it can become painfully cold to remove all of the ice by hand without water proof gloves.
We have started to put out the heated water buckets to make sure the animals have at least one non-frozen water source at all times, but not all of the outdoor locations have access to power so we’ll have to continue to chip ice regularly until it gets cold and snowy enough to bring the goats inside the closer barn for the coldest part of the winter.