A Mild Winter Outing

So far, it’s been a mild winter. There’s been quite a bit of precipitation, but it’s been more drizzle and rain than snow. We complained (bitterly!) about the polar vortex last year. This year we complain about how it’s not cold enough to stop the invasion of invasive winter moths. I worry about illness when the ground is wet and the air is cold. Tonka has a bit of a runny nose. Pip has developed a skin rash (more on that another time) but so far, the hens are fine.

The other day, the girls had an outing. They usually go running, pell-mell out the door, but this time, the sight of green grass stopped them in their tracks. Look at Agatha eye the ground!

Agatha eyes grass


Although I provide dust baths in tubs inside, they still prefer to luxuriate in real dirt. But it has to be dry. Beatrix and Owly found some under the wood pile.

wood pile dust bath


Eventually, the hens did go wandering. This time, last year, there was half a foot of snow on the ground. This year, the girls are pecking at bugs!

hens graze


During the growing season, the goats are grazed on the lawn on leashes. Otherwise, they’d make a bee line to the roses, the parsley, the flowers… However, in the winter, they’ll allowed to go wherever they want. At first they weren’t sure of their good fortune.

goats come out


Then they start grabbing at grass.

goats on lawn


It dawned on them that they were being allowed to eat anything! They thought that they were getting away with something — don’t tell them that I’m pleased to have them prune down the herbs.

goats in herbs


They went on to eat wilted flowers, raspberry canes, the leaves remaining on the roses, mint, black-eyed Susan stalks, and more. They have no complaints about this mild winter.

goats in flower pot


  1. Wish I could borrow them. I wait until the spiders and snakes are hiding before I prune the raspberries, and it’s nit comfortably warm unless it’s sunny, and it hasn’t been.

    Do you call the vet for Tonka if he has a runny nose? Do horses catch cold? I know nothing about horses.

    • Horses do get respiratory ailments, and like people, they can be not-so-bad colds, or serious and need medical attention – like pneumonia, which can cause permanent damage. Tonka just has a runny nose, but I’m keeping a close eye on him!

  2. What a bounty to feast on! All look happy in their explorations. The boys look like they are working a buffet line. Not much winter weather here in TN either.

    • Even if it turns and gets really bad, we’ve already had an easy first third of the winter, so it won’t seem interminably long like last year.

  3. You forgot to mention the mold! :D I still have collard greens growing in a pot. It’s weird. However, my lizard is thrilled. He prefers fresh grown to store bought. Like your critters, I’ve been enjoying the mild winter. My daughter should be able to make it home for Christmas day!

    • Glad you mentioned mold – I’ve heard from several folks who have had very sick hens because the layer pellets got wet and went moldy. Bad food is not worth saving. Throw it out!

  4. First I learned something. I never heard the expression “pell mell”.
    Second, I don’t know why the sight of hens “free ranging” about is so pleasurable to me but it is.
    Third, the goats are eco friendly, no gas guzzling weed eater required at Terry’s place.

  5. We ,my chickens and I, live in the great Pacific Northwest, known for wet weather….my husband built a covered outdoor area in our pen, there is dry dirt and protection from the elements..my hens seem healthy and happy, their pen that is open to the weather, is muddy and untidy for about 6 months of the year. I have never, so far, had any ailments, They get good feed and alfalfa, and we are still getting 1 to 4 eggs daily, Maybe my chickens are PNW chickens?! I so enjoy your website, and your advice, thank you

  6. We in Central Vermont have not been so lucky with the winter. The temps have varied between cold and slightly above freezing, which has caused our 18″ of snow to freeze into an ice block – very difficult to shovel. I worry about my hens with the constant temperature variations but so far so good. I count every day that passes without significant incident or sickness a victory and keep saying – one less day in the northeast – next winter I will be in No. Carolina (where it has been very sunny and between 50-60 degrees with only a couple of colder exceptions.)

    To pass the winter I’ve been researching safe ways to transport my 8 hens 1000 miles and about 12 hours in a car. Yes, of course they will come with me!

  7. merry christmas Terry to your family all 2 legs and 4…….I live in Coldwater ,Ontario ,Canada and it amazes me how you weather always mirrors ours ..weather man says wet and windy for xmas …stay dry …we are having to feed our fish in the pond when temps go into the +’s do you feed your fish…

  8. :-) Love the looks on both Agatha and Garnet’s faces in the first photo. Or is that Ruby? I can’t tell them apart, without a leg band clue.