Friday, November 5, 2010

Weathering the Winter

Living in Georgia is a blessing when winter comes. There is a well known saying this far south in the U.S., if you don't like the weather, wait a minute, and it will change. With that said, we still have our fair share of cold weather. Some love cold weather. I don't particularly like it for the simple fact that I have to go outside in it to tend my animals no matter how wet, cold, windy and miserable it may be. Some may ask why I do it. Because the rest of the seasons favor doing what I do, and I love my animals.

When I first started out with chickens, I had no idea how big the 'hobby' would grow, until now. I keep about 200 chickens on a regular basis. A couple of small houses, a few pens, that used to be enough. My set up isnt the most convenient for me any longer. The majority of my chickens are let out each day, and they may love the set up because they have their own little groups they run in. However, I would love to have one central roosting, feeding and watering house instead of all these pens lined up to close up each night.

I have been covering pens with heavy tarps, stapling them down securely because we have some pretty vicious wind out here at times. The seramas will have to have a heat lamp in their pen as they don't do cold weather well at all. I don't worry too much about the heavy layers. They always do fine as long as they are out of the wind and rain. Did you know that a chicken copes with the colder weather by adjusting their body temperature, lowering it as they sleep through the night? I still worry though. Its just my nature to want everyone to be comfortable.

I also rake out each pen and put down a thick heavy layer of wheat straw. I have over half my pens done this way already. Clean and dry. Dry is important to me when its cold out. Some folks use pine shavings, everyone has their method.

One day I want one central house for everyone, with graduated roosts, hanging feeders and such. That way I can feed them indoors and when its windy, cold, raining, I am not at the weathers mercy. Of course I am also expecting everyone to go in at night together, which may not happen. Not everyone gets along out there if they are put in a situation where they can't spread out. Eh, it will probably never happen. You see, all I did was cover pens, and they were already terribly confused and have been for several nights now on where to go to roost. They are all mixed up because all they can see is their doorways now. They will figure it out eventually.

The run in that Ian built last winter is going to be great for the pigs, llamas, and Pacer, my one emu out on guard duty in the back pasture, to use to stay out of the bad weather.

I have read we are going to have a mild winter. I hope so. Last year we had snow twice. The second time around was a good amount for here.

Before moving to the country I really didnt mind the cold. I only had a handful of chickens at the old house and it was easy. I guess the winter is there to make people like me appreciate the summer even more, and boy do I ever.


Barbara said...

Chores can be a fun time outside with your animals when the weather is nice, but chores in the bad, nasty, wet or cold weather is just a pain.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

When I was a child my grandmother had a big chicken house. It had 3 rather good size rooms. She raised them for the eggs as that provided her with a little extra income. In the first room I remember seeing what was used for raising chicks...not sure what it was called...incubator maybe. I have no memory other than places for the chickens to roost, of what the 2nd room contained but I do remember the last room and that is where the eggs were gathered. Sounds just like what you need there on your place. It is cold in Ohio. Take care!

Paula said...

John just got home from visiting relatives in Florida, Georgia, and Virginia. Hope your winter is mild.