Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Chickens' First Snow

Little Frog enjoying the snow last night

Snowy Shenanigans

Early morning in the yard

Nugget & My Sharona breaking their fast

Jack Chillin' in the Coop

Gorgeous sundog on my way to work.

Not Impressed.

We got our first BIG SNOW yesterday, which amounted to 6 inches or so. Not such a big deal, but the first snow is always a bit exciting. . . but the chickens were not impressed.

It sure was pretty when I went to take care of them this morning, but cold. The windchill was hovering at minus 17 but it was just a quick in-and-out with a couple scoops of food. The cold didn't seem to bother them a bit, and the plastic wrapped around the two sides seems to cut the wind perfectly. We are keeping their heat lamp on during these bitterly cold days, despite the To Heat or Not To Heat controversy that surrounds this practice. Given the iciness of the 3 eggs I grabbed today, I think we are going to err on the side of (relative) warmth.

After work, I tried to coax them out of their coop, but they seemed confused to say the least, and while daring Nugget did peck a bit at the snow, she only ventured half a talon onto it. That's fine girls, stay in there. You'll get bored soon enough!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December Snow and Things

December 3rd
Snow is here, lightly now. Last year by this time we had nearly a foot of snow, but that was the Neverending Winter, which wore on even my Winterloving patience. Right now it's wet and sloppy and just slippery enough that I need to watch my step in the morning when I go out to check on the chickens. I am thinking I might need some "barn mittens," too, okay to get dirty, but will keep my hands warm even if they get slopped on.

The hens enjoying a little left-over Spanish rice. Yum!
The number one question I've gotten lately besides Dear God What Is That Thing?!? is. . . 

"So, do chickens do okay in the winter?"

Which, honestly, I might have wondered myself pre-chicken, if I hadn't been such a huge Little House on the Prairie fan. Ma's chickens always did fine. Because Chickens Are Birds. 

Yes they are. And they do fine. Those feathers are thick and warm, and as long as they stay dry they are happy. We do have a heat lamp that we turn on if the temp dips into a hard freeze like the one coming in a couple days: 

But overall they're fine. We did wrap their run in plastic (cheap shower curtain liners work perfectly) just on the North and West side where most of the blowing occurs, but the other sides stay open because they need plenty of ventilation. Apparently it's worse for a chicken to be wet than to be cold.

And with this sloppy wet snow we've been having the last day or so, they are perfectly content to stay inside their run. We usually let them free-range the backyard after we get home in the afternoon, and generally they're clamoring to get out before we even open the back door (I think they can hear the garage door open when a car pulls up) but they are showing no interest in leaving right now.

Despite the cold, my herb garden is finally sprouting! The cilantro is the bravest, although those spindly little shoots do not convince me that we'll be able to enjoy them much. The basil, if you look really closely, is just teeny, tiny budlings right now. I had no idea basil grew so slowly (I have never, ever had luck with basil). Nothing from the parsley yet, and the pretty-much-dead thyme seems to be holding on. Who knows if these herbs will make it, but I'm determined to try. It seems my green thumb needs a little something to work on, even in the winter.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Epic Monday Meltdown

It was a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend. . . of course the kids had an entire week off, which meant that this morning's "Oh No it's Monday" meltdown was the most epic of all time. Ox, ever the emotional 7 year old, stormed around for a good 45 minutes, posting No School signs around the house before he grumpily grabbed a stack of paper, crayons and began writing away. I assumed he was drafting his tirade against the world so when I glanced over and saw something very different, I couldn't help but smile.

By the time we had to leave for school he was calm and cool and excited not only about his book but about the school day. I'm looking forward to how this book of his turns out, too, and I just might need to find a guinea pig Christmas tree ornament to match his imagined one.

Now, this might not all seem blogworthy to you, but it is a big deal. Ox has always been erm, "emotionally gifted" which is a nice way of saying he is extremely sensitive, to the point that he just feels things more intensely than the average 7 year old. Now this is all good and sweet when it comes to buying Charlie Brown Christmas Trees or befriending the new kid in class, but it also leads to an unhealthy dose of drama. Lately we have been working on "pretending to be happy" even when we don't feel like it. So on mornings like this I can say to him, "sweetie, it's time to try to pretend you're happy". . . to which he replied "Mama I tried but I just can't do it today" but 5 minutes later he had deescalated and was happily making his book. Pretending to be happy is a difficult concept for anybody, but especially when you're 7. I'm so glad he's starting to get it before the pressures of tweenager-hood, although I know this emotional journey is far, far from over.