January 20, 2016

Brrrr...it's cold!

I woke up this morning and wrapped myself in my robe.  It was cold upstairs!  I crept down to the dining room and loaded some more wood in the fireplace insert.  There were still coals in it from last night so the fire took off pretty quickly and almost immediately I felt warmer.  

We got this fireplace insert for one of our two fireplaces earlier this winter, and we are trying to heat our house with it.  We still leave the furnace running for the blower, to move the air around, but at least the downstairs is mostly heated by the stove and the heated floor in the family room.  We are still perfecting how to get more of the heat upstairs though.

After I warmed up and got dressed, I ventured out in the snow to check on the girls.  Here's what the area by the coop looked like...  

When the forecast called for wind chills near -15 last weekend I put up plastic to cover most of the ventilation area at the top of the coop.  It's still cold but at least most of the wind is blocked.  I also added more straw to the ground in the run and more bedding in the coop to give the birds more insulation against the cold.  They are birds though - I have to keep reminding myself that they are wearing a down coat.  They are fairly well insulated from the cold.  It's mostly the wind we have to worry about.

Anyway, the chickens seemed fine except that their heated water bowls were frozen solid!  I checked the breaker to see if it had tripped for some reason (we have been having a lot of issues with electrical stuff in the coop with this extreme cold) but it wasn't tripped.  So I hauled out a bucket of water and filled a basin for them to drink out of until my husband gets home and can look at it.  As I was filling the basin, I saw the issue - Yesterday we were checking some electrical issues and Josh had unplugged the water bowls!  No wonder they were frozen!  So anyway, problem solved!

Next, I went down to let the ducks out.  I added a bunch more straw to their home to give them something to nestle into at night for warmth.  I tried blocking off part of the front of their home against the wind with a bale of straw but it freaked them out and they wouldn't go inside.  So it took it out.  They were laying in the snow, waiting to be let out when I got down there.

The pond is totally frozen over now but the little stream that comes down the hill from the school has stayed open because it is moving.  This is like a little baby pool for them and they spend most of their days swimming in and drinking from it.  The snow is great camouflage for them!

It seems that the ducks are getting into the routine of going into their home at night.  It's getting easier and easier to walk them over there in the evening.  Only once did I have to shoo them out of their "baby pool," usually they are laying near the duck house and I just have to walk behind them until they go inside.  Ducks are certainly creatures of habit.  This can work in your favor if you are consistent but makes it challenging if you need to change things around on them!

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