Today, we in Western Pennsylvania get a welcome reprieve from the winter weather. Finally, a day that is above freezing with some sunshine. Although we have only had a month or so of true winter weather, it feels as though this stretch has lasted forever. Humans are not the only creatures to enjoy a much-needed break from the snowy, frigid temperatures. Our barnyard family is also enjoying warmer temperatures and sunshine.
My poor laying hens and Romeo the rooster have spent most of the past month inside their chicken coop. The coop has plentiful space for everyone to move around and even scratch a little, but boredom for animals is a genuine thing. My hens are used to free-ranging all over the farm. They have no barriers and can go where they please when they please. Sometimes they choose to hang out in the barn or the pasture field; sometimes, they decide to take their chances and peck and scratch around the perimeter of the hay fields. However, they are not used to being locked inside and not having a full day’s exercise and freedom. To alleviate the boredom, I give them warm oatmeal with lentils on cold days and give them fresh greens or vegetable scraps to pick through. This small gesture helps them to remain active and not peck at each other out of boredom.
My “goatsies” also look forward to a break in the weather. They, too, are used to coming and going as they please. When the weather is cold, snowy, and blustery, they spend a lot of time in the barn. Again, everyone has space to move about freely. The Bibbed Wonder strategically places hay bales around so they can eat, climb, and cuddle in where they choose. However, an indoor obstacle course does not offer the same stimulation as outdoor time. Like humans, the goats crave time in the sunshine, exercise, and activity. They can be found in the pasture fields, headbutting, jumping, or stretching out, soaking up the sunshine. The little ones can be seen bouncing, racing, and taking turns jumping off the ledge of the barn. It’s cute; they line up like children waiting for their turn on the sliding board. If anyone tries to cut line, they are promptly headbutted to the back where they belong. As I observe my farm family, I find it confounding how anyone can believe animals are dumb, lack emotion, and don’t deserve to be treated with care, love, and respect.
Today, everyone here on the farm will take advantage of the almost 50-degree temperatures. I intend to go for a walk and get my Heavy-B some much-needed exercise. It will be refreshing not to have my appendages freeze within five minutes of being outside. I’ll feed my geese, let my chickens out and watch the goats play games. Of course, I have soap duties to take care of, but it feels a little lighter when the sun shines.
I hope, dear reader, wherever you call home, you too get to enjoy some warmer weather and sunshine. There is something about sunshine that is just good for the soul. As always, stay safe, be smart, enjoy a break in the weather, and of course, wash your hands.