Tiny Cottage Lit & Whey Freeze


That is the house tonight with the new electric lighting. Really, you should get electric lights. They are amazing. It is quite the technology! You just flip the switch and instantly it is like it was day time. This really helps during the dark days of winter as we approach the solstice. Of course, now we don’t have darkness as an excuse to stop working…


This is Ben, our mix master, having a bright idea when the first bulb went on. A little silliness for the occasion!


When Ben isn’t mixing concrete he loves to read and often reads to his little sister Hope.

This morning our pipes froze. Not the house pipes but the whey pipes that deliver organic goats milk whey we get from Vermont Butter & Cheese. The whey flows from the 725 gallon tank on the hill down to the two pig feeding areas. Last night someone had failed to disconnect and empty the pipes after they got done feeding whey. The whey left in the pipes froze nice and hard.

Ideally the tank needs to be empty because the delivery truck’s tank is the same size as our tank and he likes to leave empty. Normally that works out fine. Four days a week this wouldn’t have been a big deal – we would just let the pipes warm in the sun and in a few hours we would have clear pipes. All’s well. But this was Wednesday when our next delivery of whey was scheduled to arrive and it was a very cold overcast day. No heating from the sun to help melt the ice. Boiling water didn’t do the trick. Massaging the pipe didn’t work either. There was still a feedings worth of whey, destined for this morning, in the tank.


The solution was to finally stop using piping to deliver the whey and move a feeding tub up right near the whey tank. Previously we had 1″ black water line pipe leading from the whey tank out to tubs in various paddocks and other locations that made it easy to rotationally graze the pigs and sheep. This works well in the warmer weather but not for winter. Now the livestock goes to the whey rather than the whey coming to them. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but I did not dare do it with the rental tractor because it was too tipsy – I had to do some work on a hillside and was not about to risk a roll-over. Now with our own tractor back, which has a much wider stance, it was relatively easy to do. The deed is done – the freezing pipes gave me plenty of incentive!

Whey Tank Valve

While I was at it I also added an extension to the whey valve handle and insulated the metal valve. I haven’t had a problem with whey freezing in the valve but it makes sense that it could well happen.

Whey Tank Valve Insulated

The tank itself has not shown any signs of having freezing – yet. This is our first year feeding whey and the temperatures have only dropped as low as 4°F so far. I’ve done some tests with small amounts of whey vs water in various sized containers from cups to 5 gallon pails to 60 gallon barrels to watch how they freeze. The thermal mass certainly makes a difference but the whey also seems to freeze at a lower temperature than water. The large 725 gallon tank is thus somewhat protected by both the whey’s lower freezing point and the thermal mass of the large volume fluid. But we’re insulating it to get a bit more protection for this winter when the temperatures could drop to -45°F for extended periods. Last year was warm and this fall has been too but I’m not counting on the global warming.

Outdoors: 28°F/4°F Overcast
Farm house: 52°F/46°F
Tiny Cottage: 35°F/45°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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2 Responses to Tiny Cottage Lit & Whey Freeze

  1. pablo says:

    That top photo is just about the neatest thing I’ve seen in a long time. But it still astonishes me that you intend to put your family of five into that thing for the whole winter. Wowsers!

  2. Patti says:

    “And God said.Let there be light”! We use a simular set up for water in our barn in the winter but we have to put a tank heater in and I stuff rags around the valve to keep it from freezing. Must be chilly work filling up the tub ;)

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