Friday, November 25, 2005

Looks Like Winter

Well, the first snow of the season fell on November 15. We had about 3 inches. It stuck to the trees and according to folk lore, next year should show a bountiful harvest. The ground started to clear but a winter storm blew in for Thanksgiving and we have a couple of more inches.

The chickens weathered the -18F wind chill from the other night all right, but they don't like going out in the white stuff. They are perfectly happy to stay in the coop. I put a thermometer on the wall to monitor the temperature and go out a couple of times a day to check for eggs and keep an eye on the temp. It was about 10F in the coop with the -18F wind chill factor, and after I gave the bedding a good turnover, the temp actually climbed. When the sun shines, the coop can be quite cozy and seems to average about 20 degrees difference between inside and outside temperatures. The chickens all look good and seem to like the two additional heat lamps I put up. When I go into the coop I pick up each chicken and hold it inside my coat to warm it a bit. They actually line up to get picked up and some of them try to fly and perch on my shoulders. The water in the waterers is frozen each morning, so I put one waterer in the coop with hot water in it in the morning and again last thing at night. The chickens like the warm water. I have been rolling oats for them to add to their feed and find that they eat more oats if the oats are rolled. I add oats 1:1 with the layer ration. The hens lay very well for me. I get between 4 and 8 eggs a day and I only have 8 hens. One of them consistently lays double yolk eggs. I don't know if that is good or bad, but our very first egg came on October 24, the Feast of St. Raphael the Archangel, and it was a double yolk egg, so I consider it a good omen.

I went to the Price County Direct Marketing banquet and meeting on November 17 and it was a lot of fun. The food was all locally produced and tasted GREAT. There were reporters there from The Bee and The Country Today and an article in the following issue of that paper, but all she seems to have done was talk to the caterer. What a missed opportunity for a good sized newspaper to bring some attention to a blossoming, regional local food ring with high tourist potential in the Northwoods area! Hopefully this coming year we producers can increase our advertising and get some more tourist dollars to boost our direct marketing efforts. As far as I can ascertain, we are the only local food ring in the northern half of the state, and we are located in an area that the U.S. Government still considers "rural". All of us in the group produce items that do not duplicate anybody else in the group, which is really great. I am -- so far -- the northernmost farm in the ring, but that doesn't bother me. I am very excited to be part of the group and can clearly see the potential benefits for the local communities served by such a direct marketing group. I hope we can keep everybody communicating and working together.

Well, it's about dark and I need to check the chickens one last time so I'll leave off for now.