It’s rainy, damp, soggy and downright chilly to the bone. The girls, especially Oyster Cracker and Sunshine who are molting, spent most of the day inside the coop. I could not blame them. Winter is starting to reach out its hand and pull us into its embrace. Some say, we may even have a flurry tonight.
Tilly and the others have enjoyed the cooler weather. They take turns perching high up upon the log looking out into the woods. They can see so much better now that most of the leaves have landed into crispy wet piles on the ground. They love digging through the leaves and I love watching them. The hawk migration seems to be nearing an end yet I am beginning to see footprints and scratches around the coop from curious nighttime animals. Food is becoming scarcer and they are hungrier. The baby coyotes, raccoon, opossum and fisher cats born in the Spring are also now out on their own. They are now investigating the possibility of new food sources.
With the changing seasons, comes a change in the way that I care for the chickens. I am more careful about predators. I find myself watching for frostbitten combs and wattles and preventing it with Vaseline. In the morning, I treat the chickens to warm bowls of oatmeal with raisins. They enjoy warm chicken tea in their outside waterer and vitamins and electrolytes in the inside one. The coop’s windows stay closed during the day as well as the coop’s door at night. A shovel and ice scraper is propped next to the coop. A fresh bale of straw sits in the garage to scatter in the run for the snow blind chickens.
I am not a fan of Winter. The landscape is dreary and it is a time for Mother Nature’s creations to rest. I used to find it depressing until I started keeping chickens. Most days, the chickens are unfazed by what the cooler weather brings. The still flit here and there, pecking at whatever delights them at any given moment. They eat the snow. They jump up on icy piles. They frolic in the chill of Winter. This is what gets me through this season. Their little bursts of colors, their bubbling personalities, their hospitality and their Good Mornings seem to make Winter melt away as fast as it appeared.
|Free ranging last January|
Photo Credit: Tilly’s Nest