Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I guess the big news on many blogs, especially those of a homesteading or gardening nature, is the recent COLD! Now, I know many of my readers live in such places as North Dakota, Minnesota, Maine and heck, even Russia, so ya'll don't be laughing at me. 7 F. (-13 C.) is COLD to us down here in the south. I don't wanna even think about what it's like up in those previously mentioned places. Even though those are lovely places I'm sure, I couldn't live there for love nor money.
At any rate, it's warming up now to a balmy 24 F. (-4 C.) tonight but we did dip way into the single digits the past 2 nights. In fact, we've stayed below freezing, even in the day, since Sunday night. It is fairly unusual for us to get this cold but certainly not unheard of. I remember times of single digit temps all through my life even. I just wish we got the snow; at least it'd be pretty. But, for us to get this cold it usually takes no cloud cover, so, no precipitation.
We did a little more winterizing on a few things but for the most part we were already prepared for the cold coming. The main thing we had to work on was keeping water for the animals. We don't have heated waterers for the birds so we just had to change out their water a few times a day. We keep one big tub of water out in the yard for all the animals; Chigger, the cat and the chickens but it was useless. You can see one big chunk of ice from that I'm holding in the photo above. We have extra waterers for the hens so we just kept some in the basement warming and when the outside ones came close to freezing we would just switch. We also ran a little heat from an oil-filled heater in the hen house. Those type heaters are pretty safe because the surface just doesn't get that hot but it keeps the hen house just above freezing. I know a lot of people say don't give chickens any additional heat but ours are just not used to cold like that and many of them have combs that can get frostbite. Besides, the coop only stays at about 33-34 F. so that's really not that warm. In fact, one day, even with the little heater running, we could not keep the house above freezing for them. Of course, it's harder to do with the little door open but they didn't seem to mind, they were more interested in being outside as you can see. I had pulled virtually everything from the garden, except for the brussel sprouts, in advance of the cold so it was okay to let them in to see what they could find. The sprouts are under the blue tarp there and I just closed the lid on the cold frame etc. to keep them from eating anything we wanted. You can see there is still some greenery in the garden, some grasses and such that they really enjoy. It was frozen on this day but they pecked at it anyway. Wasn't much scratching going on because the ground was way too hard but they found plenty to forage on and they will continue to distribute some mulch and compost piles for me.
Watching them walk around on that frozen ground with their little ol' bare feet just makes me hurt though! And of course, if I sat down near them Susie and PeePee would run to get in my lap. Those two are not dumb. They know they can warm their feets in short order sitting on me. I don't mind it either because they warm me in return.
We have a dog door on the basement so Chigger and the cat can come and go as they please when they want to warm up etc. I figured Chigger would be in there by the fire constantly, like the cat was, but she insisted on staying out with the chickens. I told Jack I might have to break down and get her a sweater because she was sitting out there just a-shivering, doing her guard dogging. She will go into the basement when we do but she usually won't stay when we leave. She does however, sleep there at night after the chickens are put up.