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.

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