November’s nearly over and so far we have been blessed with wonderfully mild weather. Where as my northern friends hunker down under blankets of snow and ice, we have been enjoying sunshine with intermittent rain. It has been warm during the day, and cool at night, and has been very pleasent. Not to thumb my nose at my friend’s pain, but we are still walking around in short sleeves and sandals.
However, the frigid weather my northern friends were enduring finally managed to edge its way to us last week. Freeze warnings prompted us to wrap our outside pipes and move our succulents near the vent of the hot tub.
We covered the lettuces and radishes with tarps in an effort to keep the frost off of them. We didn’t cover the plants that were either dead, dying or mostly decimated in the latest rampage of destruction by my greedy hens.
We also covered the herb garden in plastic sheets. I had mixed feelings about it, as none of the herbs I planted in September have grown much. I covered them anyway. I suppose I am just hopeful they will eventually become bigger, more edible plants.
We also covered the hens’ tractor in a big tarp. The wind was picking up, and was quite cold. So we took the opportunity to cover it on 2-1/2 sides, just to keep the wind off of the girls as they roost up at night.
My chickens are built for this weather. These hens are big bodied and densely feathered, making the cold weather much easier for them to bear than the summer heat. They never roost up in the enclosed part of the tractor, which was specifically built to shelter them. They only go in there to lay eggs or grab a nibble of oyster shell. Otherwise, they roost in the open part or mill around down below.
So, we just tarped it over to keep that cold wind off of them and help trap some of the warmth in.
With the cold night looming, I decided to change up their nightly treat by adding some warm, cooked oatmeal to their usual fruit and veggie snack. They acted like they have never eaten before in their lives when I served it to them. Cookie stood over it, gobbling greedily, ready to defend this amazing food from the other girls. I had to chase her off to make her share. I wanted all my girls to have warm, full crops, ready for the freezing night.
I think it froze for maybe an hour that night, if at all.The next day the Poo-Princesses toddled in the yard, all fluffy, sticking to the sunny spots to forage.They would occasionally take a break to snooze in a warm lap.
Cookie even cuddled under my sweater for a moment. This was a forced cuddle, however. As you can see by the annoyed expression, she really didn’t want it. It was more of a “time out” for tearing up all my radishes. The sweater wrap was to keep her from pummeling me in her efforts to flap to freedom. She is the top hen and has things to do! “I don’t have time for this time out, Mom.”
The girls (and plants) made it through the first fall freeze none the worse for wear. The uncovered plants showed no signs of freeze at all. My Poo-Princesses are back to harassing me for my morning coffee and chasing the dogs away to get a peck at the beef knuckle.
One thing that does suprise me is that there is no decrease in the egg production in these shorter days. In my research I had learned, that as the light decrease so will the amount of eggs. We are still getting two to three every day, maybe it is because we still have 12 hours of sun. To keep them laying regularly, I had thought to rig up a light on a timer for them through the winter months. I have since decided against it. It is not necessary to add stress to their young bodies, and we are far enough south that it probably won’t be much of a problem in the future.I will let them do what they do naturally.
I really have no need to force them, as they lay so many eggs. I have taken to writing the lay date on them so to not confuse the old eggs with the new. I am hoping to find an egg skelter, and do away with the dating of the eggs. I haven’t found one yet. Maybe I will get one for Christmas. (Hint, hint, my dear husband)
We have since returned to our warm days. Our flowers are still blooming. I still enjoy sitting on our back porch with my coffee in the mornings, even if I have to don a sweatshirt and slippers. However, by the afternoon we are back to short sleeves and sandals.
So sorry, my northern friends, for your frigid weather and icy roads. Well, maybe I am not too apologetic. This lovely weather comes at a cost of blast furnace summers with raging humidity. So there is that.
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