Cold days for our homestead

8-alice-and-eliza-janeLast night was our coldest night so far this season, with temperatures dropping below zero F. Thank goodness for the wood stove, which keeps us warm and happy. This house was so cold without it, and I sometimes wonder how people lived here for 200 years and never thought to put one in. Ticker has been indoors the past few days, even during the day, because it is just so cold outside. Outdoor play for all of us isn’t an option right now. Instead we happily pass our time by the fire.

When it gets cold like this, some chicken keepers put a heat light in the coop to warm the chickens. I don’t do it because the chickens are capable of surviving temperatures this low, and also, I have learned the hard way that having the light on all night makes the chickens wacky the next morning! I did turn the light on once last year and it was a big mistake – all the chickens were fighting when I checked on them in the morning. After that experience, I don’t leave a light on. I do make sure that all hens are on the roost at night, snuggled together for warmth. I secure the winter plastic wrap on the lower half of the run that keeps the harsh breezes out, and ensure the heater water bowl is plugged in and working. On days like today, when the air temperature is cold and the wind chill makes it even colder, the chickens huddle together in the protected run. They must get bored. I give them treats, but there’s not a lot I can do to help them with entertainment.

Ticker’s crop is still full, the size of the golf ball. She’s not eating much, and it amazes me that her comb is still so red and perky, and quite frankly, I’m amazed she’s still alive. Yesterday I fed her 3 ml of olive oil to get her crop and gizzard contents lubricated and moving along. Today I fed her another 3 ml of olive oil. I’m waiting to see what happens. ‘A’ and ‘H’ don’t like seeing her bored in her crate, so they carry her around and talk to her. She’s a very social chicken.

It looks like the freezing spell will let up. Our windows have been accumulating ice layers on the inside… I think it is from the heat of the wood stove. We can’t even see out the front door anymore. Today: more research work for the girls, more herbal class for me, and more of hugging Ticker.

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