Cold Snap on the Homestead -Dealing with Chickens

Like a marshmallow white winter…..we are in a the midst of a severe cold snap with blizzard conditions here on the homestead. Brrrrrrr!

Pool shack decor in snow USE

Like a picture postcard….the back of the pool shack in the snow.

Last night before dinner we lost our power. Without a backup generator on the homestead we simply unplugged the electronics, lit our candles, got out the flashlights and after checking in on our elderly neighbor who lives alone and is on oxygen, we crawled into bed with a flashlight and our books. No dinner for us last night!

Coop both iles of straw USE

We are trying to block the strong westerly winds from the chicken coop and run with straw bales and tarps.

We’ve talk about buying a generator but in the fourteen years we have lived here we have only lost our power once or twice and for just a few hours each time. We estimate that with the electrician and the generator, that bill would be close to $2,000. Something else is always more immediate.

HORZ poolshack-fence-pine USE

Snow on the pool shack and in the woods. 

Thankfully when we woke up in the morning we had our power back. I am very grateful because if we did not I was going to start hauling wood (in spite of my bad back) and build a roaring fire in our conventional fireplace in the hopes of keeping the pipes from freezing.

Pole barn in snow USE

Snow coming down at the pole barn….I’m going nowhere today!

A regional news program is predicting 13”-14” of snow by the end of this event.  If you are considering moving to a homestead be sure you can handle these ups and downs. This is life in a rural area!

Ball Sassy CUTE

Sassy with her ball. She and I play kick the ball everyday. I kick and she retrieves!

My main concern now is our baby chickens. If you follow our blog you know that we adopted these chickens late this fall. We rescued a Cochin Momma hen and her five two weeks old chicks. We’ve had a crash course in taking care of chicken babies and learned a lot along the way.

VERT Birdhouse in meadow jpg

Snow is stacking up on the bluebird house in the meadow.

Since daylight is just coming on, I’m about ready to bundle up and go out and check on them. I’m torn between doing frequent checks to reassure myself that they are fine, and letting in a new blast of COLD air each time I open the coop. So I allow myself a check in three times during the day, plus the morning opening and night closing.

Bench in snow USE

The main symptoms I am looking for is the babies huddling together and cheeping loudly.

When I went out to feed them they were quiet. As I walk up to the coop I always talk to them to let them know it’s me and not a predator about to enter their run. As soon as I open the coop they began to cheap softly, since I am the food machine. They were not even huddled under momma, which is what I expected.

Today I gave them cracked corn and introduced meal worms for the first time.  I am hoping that the worms do not upset them in any way but they were eating garden worms while free-ranging before the snow arrived, so I think they will be just fine. I figure that in this extreme cold they need the extra protein and energy to stay warm.

My reward today was when I went out for my afternoon chicken check and momma Clover and ALL five babies were sitting happily on the roost bar for the first time all-together.

JoJo, the littlest baby (the one without many adult feathers yet) seems to be hanging out in the plastic bin full of shavings. I am assuming it is warmer in there and that is why. But I am watching JoJo carefully as she does not seem to be growing at the same rate as the other babies.  I am guessing she is at the bottom of the pecking order and may be being kept from her fair share of food by her siblings.

Today the chickens were fed first, then Sassy was walked and played with, I fed and watered the songbirds  and then I ate my breakfast. That’s the order of priority in my life right now. The littlest and most at risk get taken care of first here on our homestead.

Small House Homesteader, Donna

P.S. When I want out for my afternoon “chicken check” I found Momma Clover and ALL five babies sitting happily and comfortably on the chicken roost bar – all together. Success!


4 thoughts on “Cold Snap on the Homestead -Dealing with Chickens

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