Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cold and Colder

Well, we really got snow!  Only about eight inches, but the wind is brutal and is still blowing and making snow drifts.   Highway 2 was closed up in Ashland and most people are being smart and staying off the roads.  I bundled up and took Dad a plate of lasagna; I was ready to ask him to show me how to use the tractor to plow out his drive because he has a doctor appointment tomorrow morning, but one of our neighbors had already come and cleared out a path for him.  Even with the snow still blowing and drifting I think he will be able to get out with his truck tomorrow morning. I told him to call me if he thinks he'd rather not drive because our truck has 4-wheel drive and his doesn't. "No, no, no," -- he never wants anyone to help him. But I think he'll be ok. 

The wind chill was around -35F last night and I was half afraid to look inside the chicken coop this morning when I trudged through the snow drifts to open up the coop, but all the chickens looked dandy.  The thermometer I have on the wall registered the temperature at 18F -- not too bad!  I forked over the bedding, set up the fresh waterer, checked the feeder, and tossed some oats and corn into the bedding for them to scratch out.  There was only one egg in the nest boxes, but it was still warm and I carefully tucked it in my coat pocket.  Then I banked more snow around the outside of the coop.  It is supposed to be even colder the next three nights.  When the cold is sustained for several days at a stretch, that's when you have to pay closer attention to your animals.  Chickens normally (especially if you buy breeds that are known to be cold hardy) can take cold weather pretty well, but if you get below -10F you have to check on them more often.  I like giving them  fresh warm water twice a day and extra carbs in the feed -- like oats.  A more experienced chicken farmer told me that when the cold lasts more than two days he goes out at 2:00 a.m. with a lantern and wakes them all up to get them moving around for a couple of minutes.  He doesn't heat his coop in the winter and slightly overstocks his chickens in the coop area believing that the body heat from the increased numbers of chickens is enough to keep them from freezing.  I like being able to ask more experienced farmers questions, and I listen to what they say.  There's always something to learn even if you may not agree on procedure.

I got the spinning wheel from Dad today.  He told me what parts are missing so I'll go online and see what I can find.  He told me that he thinks someone made this wheel more for a decoration than for actual spinning, but I ought to be able to get it to operate with a little work.  That's good enough for me, so for the time being I'll put it in the basement corner.  The wood is stained a lovely dark walnut color.  I really like it.

The Christmas cookies are going fast.  Certain people have even cleared off the top of the freezer so they can make cookie raids quick and silent.  Well, it is Christmas time, and cookies make some of the best Christmas memories! 

 Be safe and warm!

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