It’s very cold today. This morning the low was minus 12 F at sunrise and three hours later the temperature has only risen to minus 4. The wind chill is at about minus 35 a dangerous situation. As painful as the wind is, it is important on days like this to make frequent checks on the animals to be sure they are safe and comfortable. And it is also important to keep their water fresh and not frozen.
My ewes were all bundled together in their shed to keep out of the fierce winds and only very slowly came out to eat the hay I brought them this morning. The rams, who are in a separate area, were also huddled together and reluctant to come out. But they all did, quickly ate their hay and went back to their shelters.
We got a little snow on Tuesday and that covered up all the hay I’d been spreading in front of the chicken coop so the chickens aren’t too eager to come outside. I just brought them some yogurt that had turned into something like cheese and they seem happy to have that along with the usual corn, peas, and sunflower seeds. Later, they’ll be getting some cooked winter squash and potatoes with a little peanut butter mixed in.
This morning it was minus 11 as the sun was coming up. For breakfast and later lunch my Americauna chickens had mashed potatoes in addition to their corn/peas/sunflower seed mix. I grew over 500 pounds of potatoes and 400 pounds of winter squash last summer, more than I need but the chickens will certainly benefit. I think that giving them cooked food like potatoes and winter squash is more than a treat. Although low in protein the fresh food has plenty of nutrients not in their grain mix plus it supplies them with much needed water in the winter. They really enjoy the cooked food.
… habañero sauce, brown mustard, and ground peppercorns for lunch today.
My chickens stopped laying eggs in early December but lately they’ve been laying one or two eggs twice a week. Today, my white Americauna hen laid an egg but it was partially frozen when I found it. So I poached the egg in a little water, toasted some bread and there was lunch!
… it will only last a few more days. The chickens have been fed this morning a mash of corn, sunflower seeds, and boiled potatoes. The sheep are done eating a good mix of grass and alfalfa hay. Yesterday they had a treat- five gallons of chopped winter squash. Today they’ll get some aspen and balsam fir saplings.
So I’m indoors for a little while looking over photos of spring flowers like this one of white trout lily (Erythonium albidum) growing in my wildflower garden back on May 19, 2014.
One of my Americauna hens went broody a month ago and began setting on the eggs laid by the other chickens. For a while I would just gather the eggs from under her each night. But she remained broody so I cleaned out a small dog kennel, put her in it with some soft hay, food, and water and left eight eggs with her to see what would happen. Over the last two days four of the eggs have hatched and I now have four new chicks. I don’t know if they are male or female so I’ll just wait and see.
My other chicks are now six weeks old and have grown much larger. They look healthy, have their adult feathers, and unlike last year none have died from a disease. Twelve have died one way or another to a cat, a hawk, a chipmunk, trampling by the other chicks in a panic during a storm, and, for one unfortunate bird, under my foot. So now I am down to 18 of my original chicks.
Here are three of the new chicks with the mother hen today.
Right now we are in a heavy snowstorm with strong winds gusting to 35 mph off of Lake Superior which is 40 miles to the north-northeast. The storm was expected to arrive late last night but didn’t get here until about 10 this morning. It is forecast to end on Friday afternoon. Last year at this time the weather was warm, the skies clear, the grass and some trees were greening (2 weeks early), and my garlic had been up and growing for twelve days already. But not so this month and certainly not today. And as I look out to my chicken coop I can see a piece of sheet metal coming loose from the roof. There isn’t much I can do about that until the wind stops.
The sheep and their lambs are doing fine and staying huddled in the shed. I have brought them more hay and in a little while it will be time for their grain ration. The chickens are also fine and staying indoors but the growing hole in the roof is letting in a lot of snow.
Most years in April I am canoeing the flood waters in the big marsh on my property. While waiting out the weather today I am looking over photos of the river. I came across these of the river and flood taken on March 15, 2010 and April 6, 2011. Both were such beautiful days with blue skies and cumulus clouds.
Dixie and her two lambs seem to be doing fine as of 7:30 tonight (it is still March 20 here so don’t pay attention to the little red circle in the upper left). I’ve packed a lot of hay where they sleep and gave Dixie extra grain plus water fortified with some salt and molasses for energy and minerals. What a long day. Sold and delivered 6 dozen eggs to two customers up by Duluth, too. The hens are working to replace those starting with six eggs they layed today.