Preparing For Winter

The outside water got turned off two days ago. Around here if you think, “Oh, it’s lovely weather, there’s plenty of time to leave the convenient spigots on” what you’ll have are frozen and broken pipes and a very big repair bill. When the crew comes and blows out the lines, I know it’s time to prepare the coops for winter.

We do take a risk and leave the outside spigot next to the back door on until it’s freezing during the daytime. So, for now, I have a hose stretched out to the barn. That will be turned off by November, and all through the winter water has to be hauled from inside of the house to the coops. After years of doing that daily, it finally dawned on me that I could have a heated water tub in the barn. Now instead of carrying water daily (and getting sloshed in all sorts of weather) I fill it up once a week, and I pick a day when it’s not freezing rain or snowing! Yesterday I got the big tub and the goat’s heated water bucket down from the loft and gave them a good scrubbing.

Yesterday’s nice weather also prompted me to do another important pre-winter chore: wash the windows. Sunlight in the coop is essential for the hens’ health. It also encourages them to lay winter eggs. The windows were coated with barn dust and the light coming in was dull. I have to say that I don’t like washing windows. It’s a pain of a job. I didn’t worry about streaks, but I did what was necessary.

Now the hens will be able to sunbathe even during the worst that winter throws at us. I also took a broom to the cobwebs. Dust and cobwebs are reservoirs of disease. When chickens stay inside, their respiration and manure causes dampness in the coop. Cobwebs hold onto that, and the germs. A clean sweep before the bad weather hits is preventative medicine.

I also swept the storage area and cleaned up and corners that mice might want to hole up in. Mice eat chicken food and are also intermediary hosts of parasites. They’re cute, but I don’t want them sharing space with my hens.

The goats are ready for winter, too. They’ve grown their furry coats. They say that they need a layer of fat to stay warm and to please feed us animal crackers.

Don’t believe them! However, I will be giving them more hay at bedtime. For goats, digesting food acts as an internal heater, so going to sleep with full bellies keeps them toasty during cold winter nights.

If you are in the area, stop by the Chelmsford, MA Agway on Saturday at 11 am. I’ll be talking more about Preparing Your Flock For The Winter.


  1. Thanks again for starting the day off with a smile! Your boys bring out the best. I’ll be seeing you Saturday – thanks for spending your time imparting your valuable information on us less- experienced chicken owners. My girls appreciate the guidance!

  2. Wow!! Your preping for winter and yesterday here it was 102 in Santee, CA. I am about 20 min east of downtown San Diego.

  3. Always interesting to learn more about (real) weather preparedness.
    Like Santee Bunny Shelter, we are in San Diego County, and cold weather feels
    a long way off! Still, I have been curious about our goats, and wondering what their
    comfort zone for cold hardiness will be. They are Nigerian Dwarfs, as well, and… gee, I guess
    I should figure if it’s too cold for me, then maybe it’s too cold for them? How do you gauge it?

  4. Will you be cutting the goat’s beards soon so they won’t freeze during the winter when they get water ? I know that is something they always hate to do. And it’s like trying to cook and play the piano at the same time.

  5. I did the prepare for winter coop clean out about a week ago. I took a really lazy way out and one I’ve never done before. I removed all the old shavings then I sprayed ALL with a disinfectant and sprayed ceiling, walls, windows etc. wtih the garden hose.

  6. After a rainy season in my micro-climate that lasted from May to September, we are having our warmest time of year as you prepare for winter. This will be my third winter watching your hens and goats in their seasons and marveling. While you prepare for cold, I have learned to love my covered open air hen spaces so they can dust bathe in the rain!
    PS Goldie still looks awful but seems to feel fine. The other Orpington got a milder case and so far none of the others show any sign of getting sick.Thank you for helping me figure out what was going on! (fowl pox- good scare but apparently not serious in a long term way)

  7. I love all the windows in your coop! Mine is too dark. Much too dark. I still haven’t found a waterer that doesn’t leak all over the place, but I do have the heating plate at the ready. I can imagine the hens will be fighting over it in the coldest months if I don’t get a waterer on it.

    The goats seem to have built-in smiles.

  8. I love the photo of the windows in the coop. It looks like a painting, maybe an Andrew Wyeth.

  9. Greetings from Canada, Terry. Love your website. It’s my morning dose of “… all’s right with the world”.
    BTW, not sure if you’re aware of this, but your Hen cam, Inside cam and Goat cam seem to have stopped working at 11:47 this morning. The only “live action” cam at the moment is the Barn cam.

  10. It is 6:24 PM EST and the camera for the little barn seems to be stuck. The time on the last frame is 11:47AM, I think.

    • I am glad you got your power back. The goat cam no longer shows the view of the back of the barn. Thanks, Linda

      • Me, too. It was Steve’s fault. Something always goes wrong when he is out of town! Tonight we are expecting a severe thunderstorm. We’ll see what happens then! :)

  11. Well, you are certainly prepared when winter arrives. It looks so beautiful in your area. Here in the west we had a heat wave this week so I’ll be glad when it cools down a bit. Nice photos of the goats. I’ll check back tomorrow for more fun on the Goat/hen cam.