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Posts Tagged ‘#chickens’

About a week ago, we had a family seafood extravaganza which was a late Christmas celebration of sorts, and along with some great food, enjoyed some rather balmy temperatures. For those of you who don’t live in the Minnesota, “balmy” in January means 32 degrees above zero or thereabouts. The type of weather where one might just wear a sweatshirt and jeans, with a few show-offs wearing shorts and flip-flops. Back when I lived in the deep south, 32 degrees or thereabouts meant parkas and long underwear. On gorgeous days like these, I open the door to the coop and let the girls out to the covered chicken run if they choose, and a few of them do love to scratch in the snow. I haven’t let them free range in the yard this winter, because due to milder than usual temperatures, there have been hungry eagles flying around the neighborhood who are looking for dinner. I tossed the shrimp and crab leg remnants into a large feeding dish, along with a few other goodies. Chickens love seafood, picking and scratching at the crab legs, trying to get at any remnant of meat. It not only gives them some extra calcium, it gives them something to do during the long winter besides pick at each other. Just as the old saying goes, if you don’t like the weather around here, just give it another week or so. Today, with those sweet warm memories in mind, Old Man Winter blew in with temperatures that we haven’t felt in a year. It is the glacial, biting type of cold that takes my breath away and sends me to my bed, cowering under the electric blanket, watching reruns of Law and Order: SVU and surrounded by seed catalogues. Barney the Chihuahua agrees with me and stays burrowed under the covers, coming out only occasionally to look out the window to make sure there are no squirrels or bluejays at the bird feeder. Before I can enjoy this warm oasis however, I must care for the chickens. During the coldest days of winter, I have a heat lamp or two on a timer and keep the coop door closed. The water bowl is plugged in to keep it from freezing, and I change the water daily, adding a little apple cider vinegar to ward off disease. Today, when I went to feed and water them, I discovered that the girls must have had an extravaganza of their own. Perhaps I should say eggstravaganza. Crab leg shells were strewn from one end of the coop to the other, and they had managed to uncover and tear apart an entire bale of straw, making it calf deep and difficult for me to navigate around the coop. Hidden under the straw were frozen crab legs that when stepped on, made a crunching sound under my boots which sounded and felt almost like crunching eggshells. Wait a minute….those WERE eggshells! Instead of laying in their nice warm nesting boxes, the chickens had buried eggs here and there, under the deep straw. I stepped on several of these half-frozen land mines as I searched for hidden eggs, kind of like a crazy Easter egg hunt, Farm Woman style. To top it off, they tipped over the water bucket while my back was turned, causing me to have to trek back across the frozen tundra to the house to get more. Figuring the cost of the extra electricity for heat lamps and heated water bowls, combined with the price of feed, I could probably give up chicken farming and be able to afford to eat crab legs every day if I wanted to. Instead, I will head out there tomorrow and see what the chickens have been up to. Perhaps I’ll even get there before the eggs freeze.

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