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Neglected? I Think Not

January 9th, 2014

It seems everywhere you turn people are upset that some folks have outdoor animals. I’ve seen lots of name calling, confiscation of pets and even in some municipalities people are citing people for having outdoor pets. With proper shelter, warm bedding, water and extra feed, many animals do quite fine outside, even during the winter. We have outdoor animals, chickens, ducks, guineas, cats and even Tara spends most of her time outside. I can guarantee that they’re not being neglected, or abused, in fact they’re all happier for it, much, much happier!  These animals would be absolutely miserable if we tried to keep them inside to stay warm all winter.
animal feed 1
Tara is one happy dog when she’s out in the cold, in fact, she’s much happier the colder the weather gets.  She’s been getting extra bones and lots of the fatty pork trimmings we saved when we slaughtered our pigs. As you can see, she’s happy as a clam out in the cold munching on her goodies. The duck pond that has a stock tank heater in it is close at hand, which means she has delicious ducky water to drink (it’s her favorite kind, so much better than the fresh stuff in her heated dog bowl).
animal feed
The chickens, ducks, and guineas are also getting a nice warm meal before they roost up for the night. Remember all those potatoes I planted this past summer in the garden? I’ve been cooking them up on the wood stove and mixing them with fermented grains, dried herbs and a bit of lard as well for good measure.  Naturally, the fowl are tickled pink with these delicious meals and are rewarding me with loads of eggs.
animal feed 2
The Sweets, which is our little feral garage cat, is also spoiled rotten. We have a heated mat for her in the garage, but she refuses to sleep on it, even when the weather dips down to -20. She does however, relish the warm venison burger with added bacon grease. She gobbles it right up along with chicken necks and wings and anything else I take out to her. In the winter she eats about double what she does in the summer.  Her fur is so thick you can’t get your finger through it down to her skin, it’s amazing how velvety she gets during cold weather.  She also loves to hunt down by the sauna, no doubt there are load of mice down there.
The truth is most animals adapt very well, bringing them into a heated space during a cold snap actually does them more harm than good because it can cause loss of their warm winter coat. If you have stray animals around feel free to provide extra nutrient dense food for them and provide shelter with warm bedding, but please don’t try to put them in a heated space to keep them warm. And please, don’t assume those with outdoor animals are neglecting or abusing their pets, sure there are some people that are, but most are not.

Do you have any outdoor animals? How do you help them in cold weather?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.