I remember that as one of your justifications for the backhoe purchase. I have rented equipment to dig the holes for 2 of ours. If I had a tractor to dedicate to the backhoe (and could find one cheap enough) I might consider a 3-pt hoe. Then I think if I am going to dedicate a machine to it I might as well hold out for an actual TLB.
Dragging out of the stall started bad, but once I gave up on the manual labor alternatives and borrowed the neighbors skid steer it went pretty easily. That is another piece of equipement I would like to have someday.
Abrupt weather changes are hard on all animals, gets worse as they get older.
Hope things work out,