We got a recent reminder of what it’s like at -35 a couple days ago. When it’s that cold, we need to stuff wood in the fire every hour or two; I sleep on the sofa and do that. The vehicles don’t want to start. We wait until it “warms up” to -15 before trying that. Then usually one will fire up and we go around jumping batteries as needed to get the rest started. If we don’t need them, we don’t start them. Unfortunately, we did need the truck with the snowplow on it because we had 6 inches of new snow.


I water the goats, pigs, and small calves with warm water from the house. So we haul from the bathtub to the different pens most of the (frigid) morning and afternoon. All the animals need lots of extra bedding to stay warm. Even then, two of our new goats (who were sickly) were too cold and we needed to bring them into the house the night the temperature dived or I’m sure they would have died. We got them a week ago from a friend of a friend who had moved here from southern California to homestead. She’d had enough of frigid Minnesota and was moving back to California and wanted someone to take her three goats.

We took the goats and felt sorry for the almost-homesteader. But the goats were still wearing their summer coats and even with sweatshirts, they were cold. They had diarrhea and snotty noses, and just didn’t feel well. So we hauled them into our house and put them in the greenhouse addition. I built a small pen in the corner and every time I went into the kitchen, I tempted them with goodies ranging from salt, brown sugar, and apple slices to some of our dried sweet corn seed and squash guts. I’d already wormed them, given oral sulfas and IM antibiotics.


After two full days, they began to eat and baa at me. This morning I woke up to goat feet pitter-patting through the house. They’d jumped out of their pen!

Because it’s 32 above today, David and I built a hay-bale goat house inside the goat barn and bedded that heavily with straw. We’ll keep a close watch on them and if they get too cold, back inside they’ll come. But I have to tell you that goats really don’t make good housepets! I’m hoping they’ll adjust just fine. — Jackie


  1. M Blaney,

    We’ve put trays of hot coals under vehicles as well as wrapping the battery and even bringing it in at night. As we’re off grid, plugging in vehicles is not really an option although we do have plug-ins on most vehicles and use them IF we can get the generator started. Luckily, our trusty genertor does start at -20 F. Usually we don’t start anything if the temperature is due to get to a higher sub-zero temperature during the later part of the day.
    You know when it’s cold when your breath freezes ahead of you and you create your own snowfall!

  2. C Phelps,

    We wear layers. Will has only been here in this climate for a few years and he wears long Johns under flannel lined jeans. I just wear jeans unless I have to be out for extended periods, then I don Carhart bibs and a jacket. We both wear layers; a T shirt, a flannel shirt or sweat shirt, a vest and a jacket over that. On real cold days, we also wear a face mask and extra stocking hat. Will loves his “hoodie” an insulated hat with full ear laps that fasten under his chin. I just do a stocking hat and hooded jacket. Warm socks and boots are a must as are good gloves. We also do chores in bunches and come in to warm up between times when there’s a wind, bringing the temp down. It’s cold, but still do-able.


  3. Margie,

    No, we didn’t lose one of the California goats. The third, Lacey, is an older, big, furry goat and she never missed a lick. She’s in with two of our other goats and four medium sized calves. She shoves them aside at feeding time and gets her share with never a shiver.


  4. Hi Jackie

    Regarding the -35 and thd vehicles -up in NE rural alberta when hubby would go out on exercise ( he’s ex Canadian military-comms field) by wainwright -they would put smudge pots under thd Diesel engines. Now hubby is from the north shore of Quebec and I am from frigid Winnipeg Manitoba -we used to put battery blankets around our batteries and also every engine up here would have a block heater plus we had an internal car heater that would thaw out the inside before we started the engine -we learned at a young age when the temp was -40 Celsius to wake up an hour earlier and plug the vehicles in. I feel for you as I know how cold it can get – and last week was bad in your neck of the woods and north too.qet t shirts froze stiff as a board in less than 3 minutes. Do you ever do the glass of water thrown in the air test? (When oily ‘evaporates’ instantaneously.

    Let’s all hope for an early spring

  5. I can’t imagine -35F! What garments do you wear outside in such weather? Anything I got to wear would make me a statue waiting to thaw when I got ten feet from the house door.

  6. You said you took 3 goats from the lady but are only talking about 2. Did you lose one? Love your posts. We so know putting goats in the house. We had several babies at one time and they roamed the house but had a specific place to go potty; so it wasn’t too bad. We had so much fun with them. One day we will do it again :)

  7. Wow! I can’t even imagine how cold that is! Living in SE Texas we hardly get below freezing. It’s wonderful that you take such good care of your livestock but please, Jackie, take care of yourselves!

  8. Love it!I just had my best laugh of the day with Nelly and Lady. Hope they get well soon. Once upon a time there were 2 orphan Hampshire piglets Mouse and Sadie.Lets just say hardwood floors and pigs aren’t a good combination,lol

  9. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced temps so cold, and it doesn’t look fun at all. How kind of you to bring the sick goats into the house! I sure hope they make a complete recovery for you. We’ve had goats staying in the house at times, too….one was a newborn orphan on a cold winter night. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. I never miss a post.

  10. I should add that we are bucketing water to the one in the stall that usually is on the south side of that waterer. We have a back up waterer when we open a gate to the two on the north. Hauling water when it is that cold IS an all day job and is NO fun!

  11. Just because you are off grid doesn’t mean we who are on don’t understand. One of our waterers froze up last night. (We have 5 – lots of power!). We have horses on the north side of the frozen one (first time in 15 years) they splash the floating covers and got things messed up enough to open the ground fault. It started thawing and was ok last night – then frozen solid this morning. We got one element working enough to get it partially open and stick an extra heater under it. We were only around 0 F, but the wind was causing a lot of convective cooling (-25 F WC). It took all day to get it going. I put extra styrofoam in 3 tonight and will go back out and check them and the breaker again tonight. It doesn’t look like we broke any pipelines – (that is what makes me fret all day….). The tractor did start and we fed the big bale below the dam so the rest can eat out of the wind. Will probably feed 2 bales tomorrow (-18 with wind, -40 or so wind chills). Amazing tho’ how some of those horses will carry fresh snow around on their backs for days…….their coats are so thick it never melts! Stay warm!

  12. Love you ,Jackie..I thought that only my Mother and I brought the goats into the house when it was too cold ,especially when it was -2 and the doe kidded twins in our bathroom..You are living the dream..

  13. I hear you about goats not being very good housepets! Many years ago we had a pygmy goat and she would run in the house every time I hauled in wood. She knew the exact timing of that door being open. Well, she would run in the house and jump into the chair and sit there and watch us while calmly chewing her cud. Once in awhile she checked out the daughter’s hair because she used apple shampoo. Well, we ended up having to time her because she just couldn’t understand potty training! No matter how hard we tried she just couldn’t understand about going outside!! But they sure are fun aren’t they?

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