The wooly bear caterpillars are looking for homes under fallen leaves.
They’re not the only wooly things around. Candy has shed her summer coat and her winter pelt is dense and soft. She stays outside all winter and it will keep her quite warm. To keep her extra-comfortable, we’ll remove the shade tarp so that she can bask in early morning sun. She’ll have extra hay to burrow in. We’ll staple black plastic on two sides of the hutch to stop the wind. If a snow storm is predicted, we’ll cover the hutch with a shower curtain. But, Candy loves the snow. You’ll see. She tunnels. She hops. She plays. I just have to make sure that her ears don’t get dry or frozen. I’ve got special lotion for that.
The goats are getting wooly. It’s been cold in the morning and they look like fuzz balls. Here Caper is chewing his cud. He would like to convince me that he needs to get fat for the winter. More grain, please. I don’t cave in, despite how hungry he looks. (Goats are always hungry!) When it storms this winter, the goat boys will be snug in their stall. I’ll keep them out of ice and wet weather, but I hear they like snow. They’re certainly getting dressed for it. We’ll see.
Some of the chickens are molting. They lose their old feathers and grow new ones. Like wild birds, chickens use their feathers for insulation. When it is cold, they fluff up and the trapped air keeps them warm. You do NOT need to heat your coop! But it must be dry and draft-free. The hens will be fed a higher energy ration in the winter (more corn) so that they can keep their body heat up. The goats will be jealous.
The molt does not happen all at one time, and not all chickens molt alike. Some lose all of their feathers. Some go naked just around their necks. Some go into a sulk. Some don’t care. Betsy lost her tail feathers. I think she’s a tad embarrassed. A white leghorn should have an elegant long tail like this:
This is what Betsy looked like today:
Don’t worry, Betsy, it’ll grow in soon.