Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chicken Round-Up

 "I'm going to let the birds out today. They've been cooped up enough."
 Those were the famous last words of a Hoosier Girl to her DH on the phone this morning. Her DH is on the road to Hollywood, Florida-where it's nice and sunny and warm.
 Meanwhile, here in Indiana, I am still digging out from the 20 inches + or - that God blessed us with last week. That snow was the first we've ever had that drifted around our automatic chicken coop door, preventing it from closing properly. So we worked to get it closed and then disabled the door until the snow melts off. (If you're interested in the automatic door installation, just click on the "Chicken Coop" label on the left side of this page.I love that little door!!!) Anyway, the chickens and guineas have been cooped up since that big snowfall and my plan was to let them out for a break today. I had good intentions-honest!
 But after I voiced my plan to my DH and had a cup of wake-up, I checked the temperature. Thirteen degrees. Yikes. Not only would the chickens have no interest in wandering in that cold but I would have to leave the big "people door" open for them to come in to warm up and lay. That would make the coop too cold.
 So, I slipped in the door to feed and water without letting any birds out-just like we've been doing all week. Only this time I found the waterer had frozen over. Our heated base had been doing a lousy job for a while but this was the first time the water had completely frozen. So I had to take the waterer to the faucet across the yard to run water over it and try to thaw it out. And as I was taking it out the coop door, I had an escapee. One little hen decided to make a run for it. Oh brother! Why can't they just stay put when you tell them to?
 So, off I was, in the knee-deep snow chasing a chicken who really was bewildered at all the white stuff she was sinking in. It was really comical to see her reaction to it. First she took off for the hay shed to plant herself in all the straw that had built up around the door. Ahhh. But as soon as she saw me coming, she took off again. This time she landed on a downed pine tree branch.

Downed pine branch

 Let me tell you it wasn't an easy task convincing her that her new perch wasn't the place to be. Next she headed for the rabbit cages. She ran right under them into the frozen straw and frozen poo and frozen- anyway you get my drift. That was a fun few minutes of running back and forth from one end to the other (lining the front of that shelf of cages is a big patch of ice where we've packed down the snow while tending the rabbits.) I was slipping and sliding. And I gave that hen a few new not-so-nice names. Finally, on the last pass from cage to cage, she rounded the corner and I was able to herd her back into the coop and slam the door. Shew!!
Dashing through the snow
 Maybe it will be warm enough in a few days to let the birds out. Maybe. But right now I'm off to buy a new heated chicken waterer. Then I'm gonna come home and dream about chicken and noodles- and the days when I don't have to wade through the snow to take care of the critters!


  1. I also live in Indiana, we got about 5 inches when you all down south of us got zonked. Luckily for me, my chickens hate the snow. Will not even come out if they can't see good old brown mother earth. So I have to always shovel the run just to get them to come out of the coop. My heart goes out to you having to chase your little escapee. I know how hard it is to capture them when the the weather is good, much less when your buried in snow.
    Karen in NE Indiana

  2. We built a nice water heater out of a 40 watt bulb (20?) and a metal cookie tin, hubby does electrical. Works great! We also have a ceramic heat disc for reptiles in our upper chicken "condo" for heat. It was 5 this morning with a high of 15. I leave them both on all the time in this weather. Above freezing I turn off both. In the upper 20's just the water. The discs last forever and have no light, just heat. Ours go out as they want to after sunrise, and hang out in our "sunroom" and/or coop til dark. Then we lock them up for the night...

  3. Karen, thanks for the sympathy. I hope Indiana doesn't get any more snow for a while!

    Nancy, I'm intrigued about the heat disks. Google here I come!

  4. {smile} We just "cooped up" our little flock because they were getting a little free with their free-ranging and I've still got one Buff that I can NOT catch. She's hanging out close to the chicken house now that she's on her own, but I'm not sure where she's roosting at night so we haven't been able to catch her yet. We're going to be putting up a new chicken yard shortly to contain the free ranging a bit more. They've been getting too close to the road lately.

  5. Jamie- good luck with your rebel hen! Ours have taken to wandering too far, also. One of our goals for the year is to make a chicken yard, sigh.


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