T’is the Season for… water through heaters? Yup, the water buckets are staying frozen through out the day so its time to bring out the water heaters. The horses appreciate theirs, and to most peoples surprise Priscilla doesn’t play with hers or bother it at all.
However, those Sheep, my fickle flock, they don’t seem to care for it at all. As soon as the snow falls they are more than happy to “graze snow” then drink from a clean trough with tepid water. I’ve tried various water heaters and checked to make sure they weren’t getting zapped by a stray electrical current. Nope, they just love snow, and there isn’t anything wrong with that. In fact most wild animals will get their water from snow.
A few years back(who am I kidding, more along the lines of 10 years ago) I had the privilege to volunteer for a day at an Elk farm. Velvet Pastures In Lee, NH was doing their yearly vaccines and check up of their herd. After sorting these majestic beasts, we had lunch and talked about livestock management. Jim, the owner was questioning his vet about winter. His complaint? “My elk wont drink water in the winter!” The vet explained that in the wild, elk, caribou, deer, moose, and many other animals will eat snow to become hydrated. Winter brings freezing temperatures and the lakes, ponds and streams freeze over making it nearly impossible for animals to get a drink. Snow is so important to our wild friends. When we have bitter cold years that freeze water sources, but no snow there is an increase in wild animal deaths from dehydration. The vet finished by saying that if the Elk are eating snow as opposed to the drinking from the trough it most mean the pastures are clean, since they wont eat dirty snow.
So when I see my fickle flock munching snow balls I smile, roll my eyes and top off the water through that’s getting lower because of evaporation, and not thirsty sheep.