January 11, 2012

Winter Chickens

I have not talked about my chickens in a while, so I thought I would show you what they look like this winter.

When the weather is above zero I let them roam the yard. This year, because of the VERY mild winter we are having, they have been out much more than usual. The grass is no longer growing, but it is still there for the pickings. The only problem is if it rains on them and then freezes at night. This is super dangerous because they will get pneumonia on me.  Today it is rather mild, but because there is a chance of rain they are once again 'cooped' up. lol

No worries about nutritious snacks however. In this picture they are fighting over Audrey's left over toast from this morning. We through in leftover grains and vegetables for them as well as fresh hay to munch on. A They love to spend the day pecking at a nice organic cabbage.
This is the new window made of plexi glass that my amazing husband put in for me today. Two weeks ago there was a real window left over from times past here. Apparently when chickens peck at it enough in cold temperatures it breaks.  The girls can been seen checking it out here. Peck away ladies...  The 'window' on the left hand side is closed for the winter. In the summer it is a screen to allow as much air as possible in the coop.
Just LOOK at the light coming into the coop today! Not only does this allow the ladies to soak up ample Vitamin D in the winter, it also heats up the coop.  This is so important when the temperature drops below    -10C.  
The bedding in the coop is now about 18 inches high.  It is a perfect mix of carbon and nitrogen.  Did you know that if you mix the two properly (poop with wood shavings), it actually COMPOSTS!!! Do you know what that means??? It means the composting bedding CREATES heat from the ground up, AND it does not smell in my coop.  In the spring, I plan on bagging this stuff as it will do wonders for your garden.

The chickens also spend their time scratching it and eating any bugs that may feel like emerging. It is so clean in my coop now, you could eat lunch here.  Seriously. 
That red heat lamp is for when the temperatures drop to -10C. It helps keep the water from freezing, and brings the temps in the coop up a few notches.  If the girls are spending most of their time conserving heat their egg production drops.  Frankly, I think it is just more humane that way as well.   The white light was substituting for our window until we could get the new one in.  It was almost pitch black in the coop without it. Artificial light is good but certainly not as nice as the real thing.

So needless to say I have cooped up but happy chickens right now.  I am learning a TON about SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE. I can't wait to show you what crazy things we are going to be doing in the spring with the meat chickens.

Who says this farming thing can't be fun.


Dad said...

Your Grandpa H would be proud of you.

water runner said...

Beautiful! Well done for chickens and blog!

Other ancestors would be beaming too. . .