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December 6, 2011 / 74

Winter Has Arrived on the Farm

Yep. We had a couple of inches of snow a couple of weeks back… but it went away fairly quickly. But now we don’t have snow… just cold. It got down to 9 F (-13 C) last night and it has stayed below freezing all day.

On Saturday, I set up the pens to minimize the electric use. I set up a couple of leveled concrete blocks and cross laid a couple of flat patio blocks on top to make a platform, then put a “shop light” (trouble light) with a 60w bulb in it under an upside-down hog pan with the waterer on top of everything. I had to tie a rope to the top handle of the waterer tho ’cause the chickens wanted to sit on the top of the thing – warmth you know – then they’d crap in the water. With a rope tied to the handle from the ceiling, they can’t sit there, and with the blocks for elevation so they can’t scratch floor stuff into the water, the water stays clean, and with the 60w bulb underneath it, the 4 gallon waterer stays ice free.

When the 60w incandescent bulbs run out, if I can’t get more then I’ll have to buy a 3,000w under-tank heater. Now THAT’S what I call saving energy!!! Idiot govamint! The very reasons the govamint says that incandescent bulbs are inefficient are what makes them MORE efficient/useful for me since they are less expensive and useful than the alternatives for the uses I need them for.

It rained some Saturday – last time I read the gauge Saturday about noon it was at 1.3 inches – but it was still raining so I left it there. When I went up to check it the next day, the ground was frozen – and the gauge was stuck in the former mud, and the water was frozen so I couldn’t read it. I’ll have to wait until it thaws out in a day or three to see how much rain (+/-) we got. I had a glass rain gauge back-up, but it froze and broke.

We ran out of time on killing the chickens… and since the “culls” started to lay eggs (Lay or DIE, suckers!!! ;-D) we spared them and moved the remaining 4 culls into the big pen with the other 15 hens (and 1 rooster) and the guineas. So with 19 hens and one rooster – we’re just one hen off the “ideal” ratio.

The guineas did NOT like sharing their nice big pen with all those nasty chickens… squawked like crazy for a couple of days every time I went up there. But they seem to have come to an understanding or something… or they have just given up complaining.

The first light bulbs have burned out for the winter. The 60w bulb for the chicken’s light went and I just happened to catch it before the chickens stopped laying and get it changed. If chickens don’t have at least 14 hours of light, they stop laying. Last year I set up two bulbs on different timers so when one burned out, they still had one. And the first 60w water heater bulb went out today and there was ice forming by the end of the day when I made my second trip up.

I’ve also noticed a decrease in high protein feed consumption – the birds are showing a preference for the high-carb cracked corn. So I’m giving them a 50/50 mix right now (it was 60/30 high protein/corn and they were getting REALLY FAT on that.)

We’re getting 6 to 8 eggs per day at present – which is kind of low. When fully producing, we should get between two and three dozen extra large brown shelled eggs every three days, or about 4 to 6 dz per week. Next Spring we’ll determine which hens aren’t producing, and make roasters out of them. Then hatch a batch for next year’s chicken.

We’re dumping the kitchen compost stuff on the frozen garden. And we’re starting to plan next year’s plantings. We are going to back off from the large area we did last year. We planted a lot, got darned little because the wheat and rye ate my lunch time-wise and the weeds took over – but then I already whined about that. Next year we will focus more on weed control and harvesting and preserving what we grow. Plant less – store more. (And more work!!!)

Have I told you about Johnny’s Selected Seeds? We’ll be buying nearly all of our seeds from them this year…


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