Our cold winters in Northwest Ohio can run from mild to severe.
Recently we had record breaking low temperatures that dipped to -13 and only top sided to single digits during the day. Two days of frigid cold with blowing winds. Our wind chill factors reached -30 to -40 degrees. My first thoughts of concern went to my horses living in sheds until we build our barn is built. How would they fair this extreme weather?
My group of horses and 3 minis are fairly stout. They are for the most part, easy keepers. Our temporary sheds are 3 and a half sided, meaning three sides and a front with a wide entrance. Once inside the shed, our horses can get away from the prevailing winds and it can be quite cozy. We also bed the stalls helping to keep a layer of insulation between the horses and the ground.
Recently our normal cold weather which ranges mainly in the 30’s and dips to around 10 degrees drastically changed. Snow came in the morning and stayed with us until about 3:00 in the afternoon. Shortly after, our temperatures started to rise and our snow turned into rain. The lofty snow that just arrived that day began to melt and compact. Our horses love to be out rather than in. And with the rain I knew they would be getting quite wet. After checking on them, some were in the sheds – some out and yes, wet coats. I had already made sure our blankets were on hand especially for our pony Caz who is up in years. My biggest concern is if the horses get chilled or colic from the changing temperatures of rain to snow. My horses may be easy keepers, but this extreme weather had me more than a bit worried.
Just as the weatherman predicted, the temperatures began to drop rapidly towards evening. Snow hardened and ice formed. Caz was blanketed, the horses were being checked and there were no signs of shivering. I was relieved knowing that if they had made it through these quick and drastic weather changes without being chilled, they should be good through the night.
Our temperatures dropped from the high 30’s to -13 within hours. My little dog Mimi was so cold that I basically took her outside and sat her down so she could do her business and then picked her right back up to go into the house. Our trees groaned and squeaked with the wind as I have never heard before. It sounded as if the bone chilling wind was more than they wanted to tolerate.
All that could have been done for the horses was done. They had shelter from the inclement weather, food and water. My little hens in the coop had lofty straw, water and food as well as small coop heaters.
As I went to bed the wind growled and blew. I didn’t sleep well through the night but rather in chunks of time waking to hear that wind, a reminder of frigid temps and wind chills.
Awakened by the loudest crash or boom, at 5:00 a.m. my little dog flew off the bed and I followed. The crash was followed by both our home and bedroom windows shaking. For a moment I was trying to gather my thoughts. Picking up Mimi, I put on slippers and a robe thinking a tree must have hit the house. What else would have made such a loud noise as to throw both myself and sweet dog out of bed?
At 5 a.m. it was still dark, although I could see the shadow of trees and the light of the stars in the sky. From room to room I walked wondering if our roof was damaged, the house or… what?? I could not find anything wrong in the house. Layering a coat, boots, scarf and gloves, out the front door to do the drop off with my dog and the pickup almost in one sweep, I looked around and saw no signs of limbs or fallen trees.
After getting a cup of coffee and changing, out to the coop I went. The girls in the coop were all fine and accounted for. A short drive to the horses and office with great concern – the horses all looked good. In fact, wonderful. Some in the sheds and some out. No one was shivering except myself and Mimi.
How sturdy are our horses? They are amazing animals. Our temperatures stayed in the negative 13 to negative 9 degree range all day and the horses faired better than good! And for that loud crash or ‘boom’ accompanied by the house shaking? I witnessed a frost quake. Once it rained, the water soaked into the ground. With plummeting temperatures the the rain water froze very quick and expanded underground. This can create an explosion, if you will, and literally feels like a small earthquake. The noise can be heard within a mile. Its loud and it shook the house. Several were heard in our area.
As I sit and write this, the evening after, with assurance I can say our horses are so capable of handling adverse weather with shelter, food and water. Our amazing weather is mind boggling. Our amazing horses are well…simply incredible.