|Frostbitten wattles and comb|
During the winter months, chickens can become prone to frostbite. Frostbite can occur on combs, wattles and even their feet. Chickens with larger combs and wattles often are the most susceptible. Cold hardy breeds, such as Wyandottes, Orpingtons, Australorps, and Silkies tend to have smaller combs. During colder weather, most chickens will poof out and poof up their head feathers and you will notice that their combs become almost entirely covered by their feathers. Chickens will also naturally roost in the evening. When roosting, the chicken’s body will cover their feet and toes, keeping them warm from the cold winter air. These are two ways that chickens’ bodies help to prevent frostbite. Yet, sometimes breeds succumb to frostbite for other reasons.
|One of our garden birdhouses iced over.|
I spent time visiting with children’s author, Jan Brett, and her amazing, prize winning Polish hens and roos. Can I just tell you that her chickens just smell amazing! As I was holding one of her hens, I could smell this wonderful aroma of eucalyptus, mint, and lavender wafting up to my nose. I leaned over and smelled her chicken’s poofy head, it was delightful! Her sweet chicken, fell asleep in my arms while waiting for her beauty treatment.
|Children’s Author, Jan Brett, and myself|
|Jan’s Polish chickens for sale|
Soon enough, it was off to see my favorites, the Silkies. I call this Silkie row. This is just a portion of the white Silkies all competing for the winning ribbon.
For the past few years, I have looked forward to everything about the show-the chickens, the vendors, the folks who came to sell livestock and the overall energy of the entire event. However, this year was different. For me, it was about meeting up with the same group of ladies that I always meet up with at the shows. It has become clear to me how important our friendships mean to one another and I could not wait to be together, chatting away like a bunch of cackling hens! We met up at lunch time with one another. In no time, we were surrounding a plate of freshly baked brownies, pumpkin bread, fresh fruit, cheese and crackers. Even though I had not seen some of these ladies in person in over a year, it was just as if time had never passed.
Please feel free to check out my chicken friends’ blogs. You can visit Terry at Hencam.com or visit Lauren at Scratch and Peck and Wendy at Lessons Learned from the Flock.
Now onto our own party and meet up! Feel free to link up three links to this week’s blog hop. You know that we love reading what you are up to over on your blogs! Share your stories, crafts, cooking, baking, homemade creations, talents, animal keeping and the like and if you please, link back to the hop in your post so others can find and join the party.
I love this chicken rug! I think it would be so sweet greeting folks at the front door or near the kitchen sink.
Enter to Win A Farm Chick/Farm Dude Sweatshirt
The Fine Print: Contest ends 1/27/13 at 12 noon EST. Three possible entries per person/one comment only. One randomly selected winner will win. This item will ship to a US address only.
Photo Credits: Hobby Hill Farm
The Fine Print: Contest ends 1/19/13 at 12 noon EST. Four possible entries per person/one comment only. One randomly selected winner will win a Brite Tap Combo Pack. This item will ship to a US address only. Disclosure: I have received a complimentary Brite Tap Combo Pack from chickenwaterer.com to use with my own flock. However, the opinions that I have shared in this post are all my own.
|Last, week the hives were covered in snow.|
Earlier this week I went to our monthly local beekeeper’s meeting. As always, it is so wonderful connecting with folks, checking in with them and hearing updates about their lives and the bees. Over the course, of chatting, I quickly learned that many folks had already lost their hives and were busy ordering nucs and packages to replace their lost colonies in the spring. As the temperatures were expected to warm up this week, I decided that I needed to take a peek into my hives sooner than later.
I knew that my bees were still alive. I had seen them a few weeks ago buzzing around the blooming Heath in the yard. In fact, they were even inside my house! A contractor working one day left the front door ajar. I guess the bees were curious. It took me a while to realize what was flying inside my home. I was happy to say that they left as quickly as they had arrived.
When keeping bees it is always recommended to start with two hives if finances permit. This has several benefits. You can always compare them to one another. Sometimes, you can identify problems in the hive much quicker. You can also do some manipulation between the hives to help an ailing or failing hive too.(but that is for another post all together)
Yesterday the temperature reached 46 degrees F and the sun was peeking out from the clouds. I suited up. I then, with my hive tool in hand, headed over to the hives. There was no activity to be seen at the entrances. The hives were quiet.
First, I decided to open the hive closest to the house, the one I have called Briar. I removed the outer cover and with the hive tool, pried the inner cover open. I discovered that the bees had begun to eat the candy board that I had placed on the hive. There were a few dead bees on the candy board but no signs of life. Were they dead? I quickly replaced both covers not wanting to chill the bees and then I squatted on the ground near the hive. I gave a gently tap on the side of the hive. A buzz. I heard lots of buzzing. They were still alive. This was a good sign. They must just be deeper down in the hive utilizing their stored honey as fuel instead of the candy board at this time.
|Inside Briar, no signs of activity|
Next I opened the adjacent hive. This one is named Willow. I removed the outer cover. Through the inner cover’s hole, I could see bees on the candy board. I gently pried the inner cover off to reveal bees- lots of bees! They had consumed almost half of this candy board. These bees were not only hungry, their population was bustling! I interpreted finding the bees on the candy board as one of two things. First, the bees could just be clustering near the top of the hive and I happened to catch them there or second, the bee’s population was so large that they have already depleted their stores in the hive and are now relying on the candy board for food.
|Willow was buzzing with lots of active happy bees.|
Both of the hives were nice and dry inside. There was no evidence of condensation or moisture near the bees that I have read so much about from folks during the winter. However, there was a tiny bit of green fuzzy mold on the top of the inner cover and the inside of the outer cover. To increase the ventilation just a bit and curtail the mold, I placed a 6 inch long stick with a 1/2 inch diameter across the back of the inner cover’s top and replaced the outer cover. This should help get a bit more air inside the hive and allow any excess moisture to have an easier time escaping.
|A bit of mold on the top of the inside cover.|
|A touch of mold inside one corner of the outer cover|
So for now, I am leaving both hives alone and will recheck them in about a month. I have a feeling that I am going to have to replete the candy board in February and I might just have to make a split from Willow come spring time. I certainly do not want them to swarm because they have outgrown their home.
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest