The thing I hate most about this time of year, besides the below freezing temperatures, near constant rain, and cold dreary wind is the fact that it gets dark promptly at five o’clock. That means I leave for work in the dark, and come home to find the critters have pretty much put themselves to bed. I then have to grab a Coleman lantern, hang it from my cast, and go about dispensing food and water in the dark. I think it’s going to be a very cold winter, based on how shaggy Princesses Fiona and Buttercup have gotten. I’m amazed the ducks still enjoy swimming in their pool; just looking at them frolicking in the water when the temperature is two degrees above freezing makes me shudder. We are going to have to rig up quite a few electric water warmers if this keeps up. Either that, or give the ducks ice skates. And on a totally related note, did you know you can buy knit booties and hats for chickens??? How cute is that?
Harvey and Claire don’t seem to mind the freezing weather either; of course, they have packed on enough winter insulation to survive in Antarctica. They have to be at least 15 pounds now. Much to their dismay, Gene blocked off their burrows by driving rebar into the ground. That seems to have cured the burrowing problem; after pressing their noses through the bars and looking at me with sad puppy eyes they finally gave up trying to get out. Eventually we will ring the entire enclosure with rebar. That’s way easier than putting in a concrete floor.
The chickens don’t roam as far from their coop now; they seem content to cuddle with each other and hang out in their winter enclosure. They have also noticeably put on some winter weight, to the extent that pretty soon Gene is going to need to reinforce the roosting bars. It’s really cute to see all 11 of them trying to cram themselves onto two bars; they must do that to stay warm. They have also taken to using the same nesting box, often at the same time. The Fancy Chickens also stay inside their A-frame condo for most of the day. Fluff Mama should start laying eggs any day now, I’ve already found one of those weird “practice eggs” that look like deflated shells. After Thanksgiving and Christmas have transitioned to a higher plane of existence, the plan is to give the Fancy Chickens the run of the kennel coop, and cut a small hole in the door so they can go out into the pasture if they’d like. I wish we could just leave the door open, but the goats love to go in there and eat the chicken feed. I had to shoo Fiona out the other day, and I tried to shove her rear end to get her out the door. In response she would put all her weight on her front legs, and I would end up raising her butt up above her head instead of actually making her go anywhere. She’s like an obstinate two year old. The six chicks in the brooding box are oblivious to the weather, since their environment is temperature controlled. They are at that awkward stage where their bodies are still puffballs, but they have proper feathered wings. Gene said no more chickens after he got me the six of them, but he also said that after we got the flock of Americaunas, so clearly more chickens are in my near future.