Life with Chickens, S1 E7 “Winter”

First snow of the season blankets the smithy at the Wade House

First snow of the season blankets the smithy at the Wade House

So it has been a while since the last post. The fall semester got away from me, and I just kept letting the blog drop to the bottom of my priorities.

By way of catching up, in short: Life is good, if frickin’ freezing.

We had a bit of a scare in October when a red-tailed hawk made an attempt on Willow, and the chickens have been confined to the run or the coop pretty much since then. Just a few days ago, I saw the hawk again, pouncing on something under the snow. It missed, which makes me think it’s a young hawk.

We started getting eggs in late October. These are the first 10, with the last of the store-bought eggs for comparison.

We started getting eggs in late October. These are the first 10, with the last of the store-bought eggs for comparison.

Winter fell on us, hard. We got a couple of really big snowstorms, one of which knocked our power out for 18 hours just a few days before Christmas.

Blizzard conditions blanketed the garden in 22" of new snow.

Blizzard conditions blanketed the garden in 22″ of new snow.

The run stays pretty dry unless the wind switches and comes out of the east.

The run stays pretty dry unless the wind switches and comes out of the east.

The girls remained unfazed by the snow, especially since we wrapped the run in a classy blue tarp to keep out the wind, rain, and snow we get in this area during the winter months. It’s working pretty well so far.

Four out of the five birds are laying consistently. Both Buff Orpingtons (Buffy and Willow), the Ameraucana (Prissy), and one Silver Wyandotte (Laverne) are producing. Shirley (the other Wyandotte) wasn’t mature enough when the weather turned, so I expect her to start laying in spring.

The grey-green speckled eggs are Prissy's. The others are from Buffy, Willow, and Laverne

The grey-green speckled eggs are Prissy’s. The others are from Buffy, Willow, and Laverne

Since hubby wired the henhouse, we’re able to run a 40-watt bulb on a timer that comes on at 4:00 am. Another HUGE help is the fact that I can wrap their waterer (1-gal from Fleet Farm) with heat tape, which keeps the water from freezing. Since it has been in the single digits here, that’s a big plus.

All in all, I am really enjoying this adventure. While not a lot of fun to schlep water out to the coop every few days in the bitter cold (that automatic waterer setup only works when the temp stays above freezing), I enjoy taking care of my girls. They’re always happy to see me (because it means FOOD!) and I’m happy to have fresh eggs regularly. It’s win/win for everyone (including our feed mill guy). I spend $16/month on high-quality chicken feed, and in return I get 4 eggs a day. Not bad.

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