It's that time of year again. The time when water buckets freeze over and fires are needed to stay warm. Having any kind of animals in the winter means you need to do some kind of winterizing for them. This year winterizing was so much easier because of the sale of our milk goats and horses. We are down to dogs, cats and chickens.
A couple of years ago one of our cats was attacked by a raccoon. They were promptly moved into the house, and have been in ever since. Winterizing for them really doesn't apply. Just buy them food, have the kids fill up the water bowl, and me and Sweet Man scoop out the liter box.
With some recent scary events in the "chronicles of a beagles life", we have now brought the dogs in the house. This is totally shocking for those who know me very well. I have never entertained the thought of having a dog live in the house with us. Ok, I can't really say NEVER. I have tried it a few times, but I like a good clean house that smells nice. Dogs inside kind of make that impossible, but after our little beagle came up missing for 5 days and we didn't even notice till the last day, it was apparent that our lives are so busy and with outside animals it is easy to not remember when you saw them last. My parents had went of vacation, and apparently while they were packing up the car, she snuck in their basement and hid until they left. No food. No water. But this isn't no ordinary dog. She survived and has been inside with us since. Winterizing for them this year has been easier in some ways and harder in other ways. They now get a weekly bath to help with their lovely odor, and yes my house does stink now. Clover, (our blue tick) likes to see how many times we will get up and let her in and out during the day! :-0 However aggravating all of that can be, we LOVE having them in the house and they have brought us so much more joy than having them outside ever could. Isn't that what life is about? Finding joy in the mess!
So, that leaves us with only chickens outside. I will NOT cave and bring them inside. I draw the line HERE!! Our big chickens have been free ranging during the day and going in their little coop at night.
When I say free ranging, that mainly means hanging out on my porch or walk ways and pooping everywhere. With it being cold, there really isn't much they can scratch around for, and I like a few seasons where I don't have to watch where I walk. But hey, it's a farm. That is one of the activities that come with it. We have a take off your shoes before entering here, and that is why! Nobody wants chicken poo in their house! You can wipe you shoes off really good, but then the dog will just roll all in it and proceed to bring it in the house anyways! Gotta love those dogs.
I had planned on not using my little coop this winter and just having all my chickens in one big coop, so I wouldn't have two water and feed container to fill each and every day. But, I still don't feel like the new guys are ready to meet Mr. Pecky the rooster. Yesterday I prepared their "old pad" for winter. It never ceases to amaze me at how scared chickens can be of a heat lamp. It's like they think somehow that glowing red light will in fact be the source of their demize. Not being daunted by their thanklessness, I cleaned out the
poop garden fertilizer and layed down new sawdust. Hung their heat lamp and moved their feed and water into the main area of the coop, just in case they didn't want to have to get their feet wet just to nourish themselves. Now, I have heard many people say that chickens can survive without all of this winterizing. But why on earth would anyone not want to make their sweet little chickens as nice and comfortable during the winter. Especially when they give you these every morning.
I try not to complain that they sometimes forget to wash them right after they lay them. :-0 Their little coop is now prepared for winter.
They have their heated side with little roosts...
With an opening to their fenced in run. Yes, that's Mr Pecky letting me know that I do not belong in here!
On the other side of their run, they have their nice secluded dark place to happily lay their eggs.
I love the way their run looks all covered in snow.
Now, on to the other chickens. Their coop was already pretty much ready. It used to be my goat milking barn with a milk parlor and everything. The new baby goats where born on the day I got the call about my Dad's heart problems. Couldn't have been worse timing. Hubby was left here with new baby goats, one that needed to be bottle fed, and two mama goats that needed to be milked, not to mention 3 home schooled little girls, a full time job and 2 college classes!!! I was in Cleveland with my Dad. After trying to make it work for sometime, we decided that this was not the right time to have milk goats. That's fine. Kroger's carries almond milk, and we have grown to love it more than goat milk anyways. Oh yeah, back to my original thought...that barn was already insulated for the new baby goats, so we just needed to transform it into a chicken palace.
Sweet Man started working on it sometime ago, but you know how it goes. Several other projects that we didn't see coming have been put in front of it. It may not be finished, but the chickens don't seem to mind.
They love the fact that since the screen door that separates their side from mine, can serve as a great roosting spot without the fence in it yet.
They seem to be enjoying the fact that their future nesting boxes don't have the backs on them yet. They seem to almost be playing freeze tag sometimes, as they chase each other hopping through both sides.
They appreciate the warm glow from their heat lamp......
An empty feed box...not so much!
You see this handsome little thing? He is one of my new roosters. I have been trying to hold him as much as I can, and whisper sweet nothings in his hear. Maybe when he grows up he won't get too big for his britches, and try to flog me whenever I get close to him. Maybe he will remember how I made sure he had fresh, clean thawed out water everyday, and feed him only the nicest natural feed. Maybe he will remember all those table scraps I brought him and appreciate me. No, he'll probably chase me off and hang on the back of Sweet Man's calves just like Mr. Pecky. Oh for them to stay this sweet and innocent forever! ;-)
Hope everyone is staying warm!