This morning it was negative ten degrees at our house. This follows a week of single digit temperatures and a snowstorm that gave us about two feet of powdery snow on Sunday. This dip in temperatures is about a month earlier than usual for midcoast Maine, but we are weathering it well.
The snow helped us to insulate our chicken coop, which I’d already surrounded with bales of hay. Now it resembles and igloo, and the more snow we get the more we will pack it in around. The chickens come down for a quick bite but spend nearly all of their time in the upper part of the coop, which has a light to keep it warm and nice, deep hay bedding.
Since they are fairly miserable and cold I’ve take not bringing them special treats in the mornings and evenings. Heated tomato sauce is a favorite, it’s left over from the fresh garden veggies and warmed up it is a great treat for cold, hungry hens. They love it.
The geese don’t mind as much as the chickens but they still aren’t pleased with the snow. Walking through it for them is a bit like swimming, so we had to dig out an area for them. They enjoy a warm tub of water to soak their feet in and otherwise spend much of the time with their heads under their wings, thinking of warmer times. Everyone is in a little bit of hibernation mode, doing the minimum activity possible until warmer weather arrives.
And finally the humans inside are keeping warm as well. We are heating primarily with wood this year, and it actually keeps the house nice and toasty. As we knew going in, farming is a commitment. The chickens need their fresh water and special treats morning and night, where you want to go outside or not. Paths must be dug out and hay freshened, rain or shine or snow. It’s actually one of the highlights of a small farm, the rhythm of daily life continuing summer and winter.