Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Surviving Winter

It's been awhile. Longer than I realized. Plenty of things chicken and non-chicken related have happened between last fall and now. I won't bore you with all the details, but I'll hit a few of the chicken related highlights.

This winter we went an insane amount of time without eggs. I actually had to buy eggs. Twice. It was horrible. It was the first time I bought eggs since owning chickens. Ir resulted in frequent verbal threats on the flock for over a month. I kept telling them how delicious they looked and questioned why I was feeding them if they couldn't produce me any deliciousness. After awhile I gave up and left them to their own devices. Like everyone else in the country, we had a hard winter. We got more snow than we have in years and I'm sure the girls were using all their energy to stay warm. I'm happy to say we're back into fairly regular production mode now.

We're getting an egg or two a day, so I'm happy. I have all the makings for a delicious quiche this week, so I'm a happy Chicken Lady.

Our girls are not a fan of the winter. They hate the snow. During our first snow, some of the girls came out of the coop in the morning, walked around, looked at the snow, then turned right back around and headed back into the coop. They said screw this mess. We're done here. They kept pretty short outside hours. I can't blame them. It has been freezing out there. The second snow didn't seem to shock them as much. They spent a little more time outside, but it warmed up fairly quickly and the snow was gone a  few days later. I'm sure they were relieved. I sure was and I don't spend the majority of my time outside.

Everything is holding up well despite the weather. There are only a few little adjustments that need to be made to the coop and our chicken equipment. The locks we were using on the human-sized door to the run rusted out, so we've got carabiners taking their place. We stopped actually locking the locks quite awhile ago, years ago actually, so the carabiners may be a permanent replacement. They keep the door latched and that's what we need. I'd like to clean up the boards over the nest boxes, but only for appearance sake. They're a little frankenstein looking right now as my husband slapped a few boards up on a slant to put a stop to the girls sleeping on and pooping all over the flat board that was originally on top of the nesting boxes. The slanted board keeps them off, but it looks hideous. Maybe one day we'll get around to fixing that up. Otherwise, all we've got to replace is their big waterer. It's metal and after almost four years it's starting to rust. What can you expect? With any kind of animals you have to replace that kind of stuff every now and then.

The sad news about our flock is that we recently lost Pouncey, the beautiful Ameraucana that turned out to be more of a mutt with a beard. One day my husband when out to let the girls have some free range time in the yard and found her hunkered down in one of the corners where they take dust baths. When he noticed her feathers bowing in the wind, he knew something was up. He picked her up to see if she was okay only to find that she had passed away probably sometime that morning.

She was my favorite. Out of our three original girls, she was mine. I named her. I thought she was such a beautiful chicken. And I'll miss her.

On the bright side, this means I'm on the hunt for another chicken (or two) this spring. I've always wanted a blue or green egg-layer. Maybe I'll finally get one this year. I'm sure some people think I sound horrible jumping from my favorite chicken dying to my want for more chickens. The fact of the matter is chickens die. Pouncey lived a great life. She had plenty to eat. She had lots of time to free range and explore the yard. She was around other chickens. She lived a much better life than a lot of chickens who are slapped into tiny cages and do nothing but lay eggs for a year before they're culled to make room for the next younger, better egg layer. Our chickens are pets, but they're still chickens and they're still part of the life cycle. I can be happy knowing I gave her a good life. Now it's time for me to give some more chickens a good life.

Until then, good Chicken People.