So this happened to our little farm as soon as we left. We did not appreciate how cold it would get (9 degrees Fahrenheit) or how deep the snow would get (~18 inches) before we left. If we had known we could have prepared better. But our farm sitter and Tom’s son did an admirable job limiting the damage and keeping most of the animals alive.
The water pump froze. So they brought in extra heat to thaw it. The pipe to the barn also froze, and this gradually thawed after the pump starting functioning again. In the meantime for several days our farm sitter had to bucket water from our rain catchment containers in the afternoons after the sun thawed them enough. Bucketing that much water to cows is a big deal. Of course the pipe to the barn finally unthawed after she had finished bucketing that day. Plus there is just simply difficult trying to walk through that much snow.
Thomas put down our dying old sheep Logan which I am so thankful for. With so much snow he could not bury him. Thankfully Tom dealt with that grim task when we got home.
Thomas also knocked the heavy snow off of our flatter roofs so they would not collapse. It had started to rain on the snow before it could melt so it was getting quite heavy.
We did lose power one day but thankfully not long enough for our pump or pipe to refreeze. When we got home there were no burst pipes and our pump is working. The only issue is that the pressure gauge is not working well. My aquarium pumps stopped too, and three fish died.
I tossed some squash to the chickens, geese and sheep as a treat after their ordeal when we got home. It is still quite icy.
It was interesting that the sheep’s field is pristine. Usually they do not mind the snow and even sleep in it. Something about this snow has made them hang out by the barn and not go into the field at all. Maybe because it was so cold. I was told the snow was initially quite powdery and maybe they did not like it. Maybe it was just too deep. Or maybe they were just sick of it and wanted nothing to do with it.
The cows equally did not walk in their field. These are almost all Highland cross cows so snow is usually not an issue for them. They had a couple of paths in their field but otherwise spent likely 1.5 weeks in a small patch of trampled snow. We moved them to a different area with a shelter after we returned, and they do seem happier now (although the snow is also slowly melting).
We had left our drinking water on the back porch, having no idea it was going to get that cold. So all but two of them froze solid and broke. Two we are thawing out and hoping did not split. Two of the split ones we are trying to thaw into other intact containers.
So this was a big mess we left for our farm sitter and ultimately son too. Again, I am thinking we cannot take vacations in the winter again as it is just too unpredictable, and we have too many vulnerable animals depending on us.