Dealing With Frozen Water Troughs

| 2/14/2011 3:26:28 PM

Tags: Cold, Snow, Ice, Robyn Dolan,

Snow and cold in Arizona

A photo of Robyn DolanThe Homestead has had some extreme weather the last few weeks.  10 and 16 below zero overnight New Years week, then up into the high 50s during the day.  Fortunately, not much damage was done.  Except to the electric bill. I finally decided it was more economical to put an extra heater in the pumphouse than to fight with frozen and broken water lines.  That made the biggest inconvenience the frozen water troughs.  The smaller ones froze solid for several days, the larger ones maintained over a foot of ice on the surface.  It was really tricky getting enough water to the animals during that period.  I almost resorted to running a hose from the water heater to the troughs just to help them thaw out faster.  There is just no easy way to chip through that much solid ice.

Snowed in chicken coop

Perhaps I'll have to consider some heating elements for the water troughs now.  At least the hose thawed out after the first day.  Carrying water to 5 horses and a dairy cow is alot of work!  Not to mention the smaller animals.  A garden cart doesn't slide too well over snow.  I considered putting skis on it, but I already gave away my downhills and didn't want to ruin my cross countrys.

Horses in the snow

And speaking of the garden cart, hauling the hay to all the critters was quite a project without it.  I tried putting a bale on the old broken Radio Flyer sled, but it was too heavy and sank into the snow.  So now I'm brainstorming ideas for hand drawn transport of hay bales and water buckets over snow.  A sheet of aluminum roofing?  Sled runners for the garden cart?  Teach the horses to (gulp!) work?! and pull a wagon?  Any ideas?

11/20/2017 9:37:10 AM

I have always bought the heavy duty ice fishing sleds! They are made from heavy duty lightweight plastic and BEST of all, they have HIGH SIDES to keep bales or what ever you put in them, to stay in place! They come in many sizes and prices. I have always bought the "Otter Sled" but now I see there is competition and that one is called a "Shappell Jet Sled" and is basically the same sled, but comes in camo color, instead of black. Color doesn't matter, these sleds PAY for themselves in GRIEF prevention! I have even used mine in the summer to slide across the grass or fields when I need something without having to deal with wheels or uneven ground issues! Buy one or the other! YOU WONT REGRET IT! Sheila

1/9/2016 7:36:57 PM

We use to put a piece of wood like,a small chunk of firewood in the water.The theory is that the floating wood while moving around by the breeze will keep the surface from freezing.Also you,would be surprised how fast your ice would thaw by lighting up enough charcoal piles around the base will thaw in a fairly short time.

1/1/2016 11:42:21 AM

I don't know how big your homestead is,how many animals you're watering & feeding, etc., so that may color some of my ideas, here, a bit. From the picture, the first thing I'd suggest, is creating a wind block, to protect your water, somewhat, from that aspect. You might be surprised, at just how much of a difference it can make. If you can, a better way might be to build a box or small 3 sided shelter around them. I'd also surround the troughs with straw, styrofoam (cutting up some old, cheap styrofoam coolers works wonders), to insulate them - unless you have other means, that is often the cheapest way to go. A drop-in heater is a bit more of an expense, but is also a good thing. The deeper tanks, that hold a lot more water are also slower to freeze, and surrounded by something to insulate them, and protected with a wind break - even just a tree band or two, might make all the difference in the world for you. One other thing, might be an aerator, to keep the water moving. Still water freezes faster than moving water. Absolutely, the sleds were how we hauled our hay, with 6 horses, a Jersey cow, and 3 bulls to feed. And that was even harnessing the mass of teenager power (3 strong ones!). If you have a horse strong enough/mellow enough to draft, then, by all means! We also used one for hauling our home-heating firewood up from the back side of our property. Good luck, and stay warm!