October 27, 2011:
First snow of the season
Followed by a Nor’easter on October 29, 2011 (sorry about the screen!)
Luckily we escaped most of it. We only had about 4 inches that stuck around. An hour south of us, my aunt got 20 inches though! Crazy!
I do enjoy the snow, but this was a bit to early!
Taking care of the chickens throughout the winter has introduced us to unexpected challenges. Winter is a difficult time for all animals and the chickens are no exception. We had to learn to make accommodations along the way to keep the comfortable and happy throughout the winter, but there is only so much you can do with temperatures hovering near 0*F at night and a few feet of snow. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned.
Chickens do not like snow. Although we have cleared their run, the trace amounts of snow keep them from wanting to go outside. They’ve really become little couch potatoes. They prefer to stay in their cozy little coop.
Keeping variety in their diet is difficult and expensive in the winter. We supplement their feed with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other goodies like flax and grains. The chickens eat our veggie ends, squash we froze over the summer, pumpkins that we still have around and cabbage and seconds of root vegetable we can pick up at the only remaining roadside vegetable stand.
Increasing their protein intake has been a challenge and leads to our next difficulty. Back when we had the rooster,
we ran into a big problem with our brown layers. Basically they were his favorite ladies, and he made that very well known. So well known that he wore the feathers off of their backs and even drew blood at times. Then the rooster met his fate. With the help of some Blue Kote the ladies healed, but growing feather back has been a real challenge. From what I’ve read, growing feather requires a lot of extra protein. We provided protein in the form of cottage cheese (they love it) but it really hasn’t helped enough. We’ve since started feeding a protein supplement and hope that this will do the trick. Problem is, we now have feather pickers. The chickens are pulling each others feathers out. We’re still applying Blue Kote every so often because the taste is supposed to deter them from messing with the area. I suppose it’s their nature to peck, but it sure is frustrating. I’m sure it doesn’t help that they are bored and won’t leave their coop, but we’re at a loss as to how to fix the situation. Hopefully the protein supplement will help things.
Here is a video of one of our first spring like days (50*F!!). The chickens were out roaming the driveway, because it was the only area without snow. Apparently the lure of dirt was irresistible. Everyone decided a dust bath was in order. Around here, were all ready for spring! (Please note, the naked, blue butts, the lack of feathers really makes for some ugly chickens )
During the nor’easter last week, we took advantage of the snow day and went out snowshoeing. Between our house and my parents’ house there are ~130 acres of woods. we explored the trails on foot and made it all the way to my parents house eventually. It was quite the workout and certainly gave skiing a run for its money!
This is where the woods begin:
We took our most used trail this time, I’m not sure I could have made it all the way to my parents’ house if we didn’t. My legs were burning, but Pup really had no problem with it!
It was a beautiful way to get some exercise in and spend some time playing in the snow without having to wake up at 4am to drive to a ski area!