Sunday, February 2, 2014

I've been schooled!

So in theory, I was all on board with not heating the coop or providing any artificial light to keep the Ladies laying through the dark days of winter.  It all made perfect sense to me.  People have been raising chickens in New England and other cold climates since before electric heat sources.  And I really don't think they were lighting fires in their barns and coops!  I did my homework and we got the right kind of cold hardy chickens.  So we should be all good.  Right?

Well when push came to shove I really second guessed myself.  And by "shove" I mean the Polar Vortex.  For the first round of intense cold, I was most worried about the severe temperature change (a drop of 50 degrees in 24 hours - 70 if you count the wind-chill).  After all - hadn't I read that the change could be more dangerous to My Ladies?  So we created the Polar Vortex Hotel and moved the Ladies into the garage.  They took up residence in our big dog crate with an extension built on with pen panels. 

They didn't like it!  They were bored and crabby and although Lacy was the only one laying at the time - it messed up her schedule.  She likes privacy for her egg laying.  The Polar Vortex Hotel did not have any private rooms available for Miss Lacy. So she escaped.  And all the others followed.  I'll probably find an egg stashed somewhere when we do our spring garage cleanout.  We rounded them back up and showed them back to their suite.  And they still didn't like it.  There were complaints and whining.  I can be a slow learner but I got it.  So I moved them back out to the coop before I thought it was warm enough.  Those were the happiest birds I've seen.  Miss Lacy rewarded my good decision by immediately going into the nest box and giving me an egg.  And low and behold a few of the others started laying!

Then Polar Vortex Round 2 came.  And what do I do?   Of course!  I reopen the Polar Vortex Hotel and give the Ladies the best suite available.  To say they were not amused is putting it mildly.  The complaining started immediately.  The first time it was really just Bella who complained - and frankly Bella complains about everything.  This time there were multiple escape attempts, finally resulting in them collapsing the "roof" of their extension.  Poor Luna and JiJi both ended up with cuts on their combs (combs bleed a lot by the way).  But that's what you get when you are having a raucous party and swinging from the feeder.

I gave up.  I evicted the ladies and moved them right back out to the coop.  It was still really cold.  But again I was rewarded by happy birds and eggs!   Luna has a little bit of frostbite on her comb.  But it's no worse than when she was in the garage.  And when it's really cold, most of the Ladies stay in the coop.  The difference is it's home and they have the freedom to go into the run - should they choose.  When it's particularly cold, they sleep in the nest boxes - three chickens in a one foot square box.  Quite a sight!  Generally you don't want them sleeping where they lay their eggs but I think they know what they're doing.  So I'll let them decide and just do a little extra cleaning in the morning.

Ok Ladies!   I get it.  No more Polar Vortex Hotel.  You hate it.  I know.  You are tough New England Ladies.  And you know what you need better than me.  No additional heat.  No additional light.  No unnecessary changes.  I'll let you call the shots as long as you keep rewarding my good behavior with eggs!

The Chicken Chick


  1. I can't imagine every wanting my own chickens, but I sure wish I could have fresh eggs from them. Maybe I can find a neighbor with a chicken coop and offer to supply the with soup in exchange.

  2. Don't you love being out-witted by chickens? Happens to me all the time! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick