The snow hasn’t stopped coming. We haven’t had a thaw. Is this what it’s like to live in Hobbit-land during the winter?
This sort of weather poses challenges to the flock owner, but perhaps not what you think. This morning when Steve let the animals out (thank you for doing that chore!) it was -6° F. The cold isn’t going to directly harm the Girls. The hens are eating, drinking, active and showing no signs of cold stress (no shivering, no frostbite.)
If you’ve read my blog for any time at all, you know that three things are required to keep your hens healthy: plenty of space, sunshine and good ventilation. All of those are compromised because of the snow.
The run has been shoveled as best we can, but It’s down to a fifth of its normal area. Because the hens are crowded, I add extra bedding, and keep them from getting bored with treats in the suet feeder. My hens have good-sized coops with plenty of roosting bars. That keeps the pecking pressure reduced, as well.
The hens continue to go outside, but we’ve had far too few brightly sunny days. The piles of snow block the light that there is. And now, there’s another issue. The coop is darker than it usually is because the windows are iced over.
Interior icing is due to too much moisture in the air – it comes from the hens’ breathing and from the water in their manure. Just because the poop is frozen doesn’t mean that it’s not contributing to damp in the barn. The Little Barn has excellent ventilation. It has a working cupola. Air comes in the pop door and flows up and out through this effective vent at the roof. But, right now, that cupola is covered in snow.
Someone has to get up there, on a ladder, with a broom, and clear it off. Someone. Not me. Thanks, Steve! I suppose he can wait until the snowstorm that is coming on Monday passes by. After it dumps another foot of snow.
In the meanwhile, the temperature hovers in the single digits, but the door is open during the day.
The hens are fine with that.