I am so glad I don’t have back problems. Plus I also like to shovel snow. Which is good because after I shoveled the front walk, I finished clearing off the deck, got the snow off the chicken coop roof, and cleared the snow from around all the bins. Unlike the other two snowfalls we have had so far this winter, this one is not going to melt until spring. A polar vortex is sweeping in this week. We’ve already had a little taste. It was 4F/-15.5C yesterday morning. The snow overnight actually warmed things up a bit and we are currently a toasty 20F/-6.6C.
Because the days are so short, I don’t get to see the Dashwoods during the week. They don’t wake up until long after I leave for work and they have tucked themselves in for the night by the time I get home. I shine a flashlight into the coop to make sure they are all there before closing the coop door for the night.
Their run is shrouded in opaque plastic to keep the wind and snow out and it works really well. It also keeps the run noticeably warmer than the outside air temperature. We have also put straw down on the ground inside the run so they don’t have to walk on cold dirt. They weren’t too sure about it at first but quickly got over it.Last night we turned on the heat lamp in the coop for a little while to warm it up for them a bit. I took a picture with my phone after dark so you could see the lights. The coop windows were glowing red — looks rather horror movie! And the snow was already falling. So the picture is not very good but good enough so you can get an idea of the coop shenanigans.
I went out Saturday afternoon to visit the Dashwoods, worried since they haven’t seen me all week that they might have forgotten me. Ha! I had lettuce and broccoli sprouts and the rest did not matter. After the treat was gone I stayed and talked with them a bit and they had plenty to say. Marianne jumped up on my back but because I am now wearing my winter coat, which is slippery, instead of fleece, which is very grabbable, Marianne jumped up and as soon as she tried to move she had nothing to hold on to and slid right off. The dismount involved lots of squawking and frantic wing flapping and a hard landing on the ladder to the coop. I got a scolding before she huffed and fluffed her way into the coop to right her appearance before coming back out to scold me some more.
When I was out shoveling snow off the coop I also freshened the bedding and checked for eggs. I thought they would stop laying but they haven’t, they just don’t lay every day. They wanted to come outside so badly but I wouldn’t let them. They let me know they were not happy about this, all of them clucking and squawking and complaining as I worked. Maybe I should clip out magazine photos of sunny beaches and sparkling lakes and put them up in the coop and around the run, give them something to look at and dream about. Do chickens dream? Can they see 2-D images? Knowing the Dashwoods, they would be more likely to eat the paper instead of look at it.
I’ve gotten both of the garden catalogs I order most of my seeds from each year already and I have paged through them like a thirsty person at a desert oasis. Earlier in the week I learned that sunflowers, something we already like growing around the edges of the garden here and there, are good for the soil because they have deep roots and bring nutrients up top making them accessible to the shorter roots of other plants. So in the spring instead of planting a few here and there, I am going to have a patch of the veg garden planted in sunflowers. I’m going to get a few shorter varieties instead of the giant ones we usually grow. I bet I can plant pole beans with them too if I space them apart a bit. Going to try it!
I also learned this week that the pea gravel we started covering a garden path with is bad. The gravel itself isn’t bad, the bad is where the gravel comes from. For some reason I thought, gravel, 100% natural and it is just shoveled up off the bottom of dried out lake beds or something. Um, nope. Gravel is mined. The nice small round pebbles were created over thousands of years by glaciers and rivers and lakes and deposited in alluvial plans. The gravel is usually buried underneath dirt and trees and meadows. To get it, the trees are cut down, the dirt removed, and an open pit mine dug. I was horrified. I had no idea. Crushed rock or limestone, even sand, is no better. All are quarried or mined, destroying the landscape and harming the environment in the process.
When I told Bookman about this we both immediately decided that from now on we will only use wood chips and those wood chips would be obtained from local sources — the city and tree trimming companies. I am really glad we never got much of the path covered, only right by the gate and one or two steps in. And while I like the crunch it makes underfoot, I have noticed the Dashwoods don’t care much for it. They scramble across it to the rest of the path that is still wood chips.
Well and so. Always something new to learn!