Digging Out, Digging In

Before I get to the main part of this blogpost, many of you have already commented about this morning’s temperature. Yes, the thermometer really does read -2° F. That’s -18° C. That’s bitter cold! But, no, the chickens don’t need a heat lamp. Here they are this morning, eating and doing fine. It’s not windy, so they do go outside. Soon the sun will be shining on the snow, making it bright and welcoming. For more about cold weather care, read this post. I’ve also written about frostbite here.

cold morning

 

Yesterday was spent digging out. One son’s job was to uncover the minivan. There it is to the left of the garage.

buried car

 

Here is the run before Steve shoveled.

run pre shovel

 

This is why I write in my Coop Design FAQ that large windows and height are essential. Imagine if I had one of those small, low to the ground, only one tiny window, coops. Or a coop in which the feed is outside and under the run. The chickens would have been in the dark. That means that they wouldn’t have had anything to eat or drink for 24 hours. My hens have light and space. They laid eggs despite the storm. Still, Steve had work to do! The Ladies ventured out as soon as the door was unblocked.

shoveled pen

 

Steve shoveled a path to Phoebe’s potty space. That’s where she and the goats have a confab each evening. We cleared the area so that they could continue to have their nightly discussions.

path to potty

 

Shoveling out the goats’ paddock was difficult. The snow blocked their door, so Steve had to reach over. Awkward!

shovel door

 

The goats squeezed out as soon as the door could be pushed open a sliver. They were chagrined to find a wall of snow in front of them.

boys leave stall

Steve kept shoveling.

 

The goats provided encouragement.

goats help

 

One difficulty with all of this snow is the problem of where to put the used bedding and manure. The compost pile is well back in the yard – now quite a trudge through three feet of snow. There is an area for compost in the goat pen that I haven’t filled for awhile. It is back in use.

While we were digging out, someone else was digging in. Phoebe is making a snow cave. I wonder how far in she’ll go?

rabbit snow cave

 

A big thank you to everyone who sent cocoa and coffee! Without your support, I couldn’t keep the cams up and running.

Blizzard Time-lapse Videos

Where I live, the snowstorm qualified as a true blizzard – high winds, no visibility and a lot of snow. Thirty inches! But, it could have been much, much worse. The temperature was lower than predicted so that the snow was fine and dry (dry as in light and not sticky, of course it’s frozen water, which will ultimately make for quite the mud season!) Such snow doesn’t stick to trees, bending branches and causing power outages. It was dramatic to watch the storm swirl and the snow to cover the pond, and then the benches, and then the fence…

This is a before photo:

presnow

 

Here is the after:

snow

To share the fun with you, Steve made two time-lapse videos.

This one is a view from a second story window.

 

Here is Phoebe’s view of the storm.

 

Please share these. The move viewers, the merrier!

Fine So Far!

Late last night the Blizzard of 2015 began in earnest.

blizzard start

 

Deep snow is more of a challenge for some than others.

Scooter pee

 

It’s colder than expected, which is actually a good thing. Although that means that there’s more snow (physics!) it’s lighter, so it’s not sticking to branches and bringing trees down, and it’s easier to shovel. Still there is a lot of it. This morning, for the first pass  to make our way out to the barns, there was already two feet. We expect another foot before the storm peters out.

ruler

 

The goats say Good Morning! You’re late! Where’s the hay?

gentlemen

 

Thank you for your comments. It’s nice to know that you’re thinking of us. Not to worry. Weather like this is a challenge, but we’re fine! Also, thank you to everyone who sends me “coffee.” (Which, if you haven’t checked it out, is $4 via PayPal.) The cams are expensive to maintain, and I couldn’t do it without support from my viewers. I love sharing my bit of the world with others, and I appreciate the contributions that enable me to do that. Today, I think, I should change the coffee icon to hot cocoa. We’re going to need it! In all honesty, that we is actually Steve and the boys. I’m sending them out to shovel, while I wave from the window.

By the way, Steve is making a time-lapse video of the blizzard. It’ll be posted when this storm is over.

In the meanwhile, Scooter and Lily have the right idea.

Scooter and Lily

Blizzard Ready

So it looks like all of that storm prep that I did a few days ago was just a practice run. This is the most recent map of the impending blizzard. Do you see the bright yellow splotch to the right of Worcester? I live there, right in the epicenter of the storm.

blizzard map

 

Once again, I’ve cleaned the coops and added fresh bedding.

chickens

 

The goat stall was a particular mess. The goats eat second cutting grass hay. Not timothy. Not alfalfa. Not first cutting. Second. We recently bought a few bales. We were told it was second cutting. The goats tell us that the hay dealer is wrong. They tell us by looking miserably at us when we put a flake in their manger. They emphasize their dissatisfaction by stomping it into the ground.

hay in stall

 

They won’t starve. There’s plenty of good things to eat in that hay pile. But it is wasteful. I shoveled out all of the mucky hay and gave them a nice deep bedding of dry shavings.

clean stall

 

No doubt unwanted hay will add to the cozy stall while the blizzard blows in. But, in the meanwhile, while I work, the goats play.

goat play

 

My sumo-built rabbit is looking forward to the blizzard.

Bring it on! says Phoebe.

sumo rabbit

 

Please note that ITGuy has added windspeed to the live cams. It should be rather dramatic here tomorrow! Please share my site with your friends – the more people who watch, the more Steve’s work pays off! Hopefully, we won’t lose power and we’ll be able to broadcast all day.

Storm Preparation for Chicken Coops

If the weather report is accurate, we’re in for a doozy of a storm tomorrow. There will be sleet and snow accumulation. It’s the sort of heavy, icy precipitation that causes power outages and dangerous roads. Today there’s no hint in the blue skies of what’s to come. I took advantage of the nice (albeit below-freezing) weather to prepare for the storm. I let the animals out to wander and forage while I readied the barns.

animals out

 

There is frost on the ground, but the hens pay it no mind. A half-foot of snow, though, will be another story. They’ll be inside for at least a day, and I want to make sure that their coops are dry and fully stocked.

chicken feet

 

Water is more essential than food. We don’t have running water in the barns in the winter (the pipes would burst, and so they’re drained and turned off in November.) But, there is electricity. So, instead of hauling water out daily, I’ve installed a large heated bucket for a water source. It’s so much more convenient to fill the waterers from this than to carry them inside the house. Each barn has a tub, and they’re filled once a week – on our schedule, on a nice day, not in the middle of a storm!

water tub

 

The hanging feeders needed to be topped off.

hanging feeder

 

Manure, even frozen, is too full of moisture to leave in a coop, especially if the hens have nowhere else to go and the pop-door will be closed to keep out blowing snow. This is only two days worth, it’s what drops down when the hens sleep, and they usually stay out of it during the day. But it had to go before the storm arrived. I mucked out and refreshed bedding. Unfortunately, the manure that is frozen on the ground outside is stuck hard. That will have to wait for a thaw. But, I was able to sweep the goats’ patio clean. That will make shoveling the snow easier.

Manure under roosts

 

Dust bathing outside won’t be possible – so I added fresh sand to the inside dust baths.

dust bath

 

Sunshine is essential to your flock’s well-being. I can’t imagine keeping hens in winter climates in coops that don’t have large windows (all too prevalent in small, prefab coops!) Coops do get dusty, and so I swept off the windows to let the full amount of sun stream in.

clean coop

 

Not a bad place to weather a storm.