This post is late, I know. It’s been one of those days. I’ve been running since I woke up at 7 a.m., and finally, I’ve plunked my butt down on the couch to write a post and watch Netflix before I pass out for the night.
I haven’t written about the ladies in awhile. The girls are doing just fine. They’ve had a great winter, actually. All three have been laying the whole time, albeit Ginger only lays once every few days (okay, more like once every few weeks). You can tell it’s a Ginger egg because it’s about a size and half bigger than the two pullets’ eggs. They haven’t had their first molt yet, so their eggs are smallish. But small eggs or not, they have been stellar layers, keeping us well supplied with fresh eggs.
We put a light in the coop on a timer. I know some people give their girls a rest during the winter, but my two new babes only started laying in the fall, and I really didn’t want them to molt when it was mid-December, so I supplemented their light. We don’t heat the coop though. Never have. Too dangerous, and, in my opinion, unneccessary. I’m pretty sure my pioneer ancestors didn’t heat their chicken coops in the winter.
As you can see in the photo, both Barbra and Judy got a bit of frostbite on their combs. The coop has remained beautifully frost free all winter, so I’m not sure how or why this happened, since it wasn’t that humid in there. I know you’re supposed to go out and rub petroleum jelly on their combs when it gets really cold, but once again, I’m pretty sure my pioneer ancestors didn’t rub petroleum jelly on their chickens heads in the dead of winter. Ginger remained unscathed this year, even though she had a bit last winter. Barred Rocks are recommended as a cold-hardy breed, but I was skeptical when I saw how big their combs were growing in the fall. I think I might stick to Ameracaunas and other cold-hardy breeds that have pea combs. No chance of frostbite then.
What have I learned this winter? Well, I’m going back to straw in the coop next winter. I used straw last winter, and it not only kept the amonia smell under control, it also kept the temperature in the coop about ten degrees higher than it was outside. This year, out of pure laziness (or busyness), I used wood chips because they were easy to obtain. Which is fine because I can practice the deep litter method, but it doesn’t compare to how well the straw performed last year. Also, with the straw, I could spread some on the snow in the run so that the girls could eat and drink without getting their feet cold (pampered chickens, I know).
I have also learned that it is very difficult to take a selfie with a chicken. They don’t want to be cuddled (unlike that chicken in the viral video that just walks up to the little boy and gladly accepts a hug, mine actively avoid my open arms), and neither will they stay still long enough for a photo.
They were so pleased that I let them into the garden for a few minutes that they wasted no time getting down to work on spring clean up in the raised beds. Who has time for photos when there’s a garden to clean up?