New England weather is known for its changeability, but recently we’ve outdone ourselves. Last week was bitter cold. A touch of snow. Then warmth and mud. Then torrential rain. Then ice storms. Now it’s dreary gray and chilly. My little piece of land has been spared the devastation just ten miles north of here, where snapping, crashing tree limbs brought power lines down.
The hens are fine in freezing weather, and their coops are snug against chilling breezes. But, I worry about them getting wet and muddy. If the ground doesn’t freeze up soon, I’ll put down a some hay to get them out of the muck. Candy will appreciate that, too. Have you seen her look annoyed at her dirty paws and shake them in the air? She longs for clean white snow to tunnel in.
Have you tried to explain what it is about Hencam that has you checking in on the girls numerous times during the day? Do you have friends who just don’t get it? This article was posted on the L.A. Examiner web site yesterday. It perfectly captures the spirit of what Hencam is all about.
Have you noticed the dusting of snow on the ground here at Little Pond Farm? The party girls – Eggers, Coco and Betsy have. These little bantams have a harder time keeping warm than the larger hens (I think it has to do with body mass in proportion to skin area – sort of like toy dogs.) They go outside for the cracked corn in the morning, but spend most of their time in the coop on the roosts. The big girls stay inside while the snow is coming down – no chicken likes to get wet/cold – but otherwise ignore the white stuff. Lulu, hyperactive hen that she is, goes out no matter what.
Candy is the one who LOVES the snow. She hopped around with glee while the snow fell. She refused to go in her hutch last night. I had to lure her in with greens. At 6:30 am this morning she was sitting in the one white patch left from yesterday’s flurries. I think she was using her bunny mental powers to will more snow to arrive.
I’ve been a tad busy and unable to blog. First was the pie party. What delicious fun! Tonight my family consumed the last of the leftovers (and there’s still pie in the freezer!) A favorite was the Pear and Cranberry Tart (seasoned with a splash of good brandy) in an Almond Shortbread Crust. Guests with a serious sweet tooth loved the Peanut Butter Chiffon. Those with a savory bent ate up the Russian Onion Pie. As always, each person ate about a half pie per person. They all denied that they’d eaten so much – but the empty pie tins told the truth.
Then, on Monday, I took the Acela Amtrak train to NYC. In 4 1/2 hours I left my little town that doesn’t even have a traffic light, and arrived here:
This was the view from my hotel room. Magical.
The one thing that struck me in NYC was that it looked as if the good fairy of trendy eyeglasses had swooped in and given everyone new eyeglasses in the Sarah Palin style (or Tina Fey, depending on your politics.) Lots of plastic frames with colors and patterns. I confess that I bought a pair.
I ate. I walked. I met with some wonderful people at Scholastic Press who are getting the word out about Tillie Lays an Egg. So far, my book has had a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly and a rave review in Kirkus. “Thrilled” is not a strong enough word to express how I feel about that.
All in all, it was a wonderful week. But there is some sad news. My elegant hen, Ginger, passed away this week – it appears peacefully in her sleep. She looked healthy up to the end. I really don’t know what did her in. Perhaps it was simply old age. Although Ginger was not shy, she never, ever bossed another bird around. I’ll miss her.
I used to take care of a barn full of horses. I’ve worked in stables that were swept, mucked out and tidied. Tack gleamed. It was a full-time job. My chickens don’t need any of that, but old habits die hard. I use a fine-tined pitch fork to scoop out droppings. I take a broom to the cobwebs. I scrub the waterers clean. Since the coop is near my back door and right next to my neighbor’s driveway, these are good habits. Still, even an over-the-top caretaker like me puts only minutes a day into chicken care. It feels like a vacation compared to the horses.
Winter is a tad harder. Our outdoor spigots are turned off, so the waterers come inside into the laundry room to be filled, and it’s not fun to trudge through the snow with water dripping onto freezing hands. All animals need fresh water in the winter. The chickens have their water on a heater pad, so it never freezes. However, there’s no way to keep Candy’s water bottle from seizing up quickly in the cold. Luckily for her, all the bunny has to do is hop into the coop and drink from the chicken’s dispenser – something that she figured out all on her own. Clever bunny.