|Belle the Yorkie has been converted into a full-fledged chicken lover.|
She is proof that change is indeed possible!
Onto the blog of today...Cold weather and chickens is something I know nothing about; the combo is a new experience I've never encountered, until last night.
Last night we had a Texas-Style winter blast move in. This meant that the temperatures dropped within seconds as a powerful whirlwind knocked things around the neighborhood. The strong winds whirled about for a couple of hours and today we're still experiencing strong bursts of wind...but last night I kept waking to the sounds of things being blown onto the side of the house.
Since we've been sleeping upstairs, I looked out the window around 1:30am to see the chicken coop in the yard below. There is a little door leading from the interior of the coop to the tractor run. Sitting there inside the tractor run, exposed to the elements, on a little perch, were two chickens nearly being blown over as they clung to the rough stick perch. They were so very close to the door that leads inside the coop. I stood upstairs, looking at them and saying quietly, "Go INSIDE you silly birds!!"
They didn't. As the weather worsened, I kept getting up to look out the window to see if they had gone inside the coop, but they stayed in their place.
Even as the rain pelted down upon us in a driving force, the birds sat there holding firm, ruffling their feathers in an attempt to shed the drops of rain landing on their feathers.
Eventually, I had to go back to bed and listen to the sounds of the rain hitting the panes of glass and debris hitting the house. I had no idea if the chickens that were so stubborn as to try to stay outside during the storm would survive the cold blast. I have no idea how much of the cold a chicken can take and how much exposure they can withstand.
Texas can have mild winters, but when a northerner blows through, it can be rather brutal with biting wind and temperatures that drop severely and quickly.
Early the next morning, when it was still dark outside, I glanced out the window to find all five chickens pecking around the tractor run, already eager to be let out. They seemed to be anxious and were making an out of the ordinary sound. I think it was their version of a complaint about the cold. So, I went ahead and put on Deputy Dave's thick robe, then headed for the backyard with a mixture of feed so they could forage around the yard for the day and find their own comfy zones as the wind continued to blast around.
I realized that very cold nights will require us to close the side panel door that lets the chickens roam free inside the tractor run. On very cold, bad weather nights, they simply cannot be given the choice to roam around inside the chicken tractor because it appears that they would rather subject themselves to harsh, dangerous conditions than to take the few steps required to be safely back inside the coop. Like little children who do not have the awareness to be cautious for their own good, chickens seem to need pro-active intervention during bad weather because they appear to be incapable of taking initiative to protect themselves.
They are indeed my little babies. My little feathered, sharp beaked, scary-clawed babies.
Since Texas is slow to experience "winter" and since it comes at sporadic times...one day it will be 80 degrees, the next it will be 32 degrees...we must be prepared to help the chickens get through the long, cold nights.
|Chickens enjoying outdoor fine dining of Ms.Baird's bread.|
Putting all of the chicken-pot-pie jokes aside, I don't think I could handle having to eat one of our backyard chickens. These are hens dedicated to providing our family with delicious, fresh eggs, not meat. One day, we will raise some chickens specifically to be processed, but the ones fluttering around the backyard are supposed to be happy and healthy and entertaining. The trick to all of this enjoyment is...keeping the chickens alive.
These days, I am thoroughly enjoying being able to do a chicken dance or two...with actual chickens. It's a good life.