Thursday, December 27, 2012

Goldies don't get their feathers ruffled over a little thing like a Blizzard

Hello I know it's been a while. I was able to get out this afternoon and take some pictures of the Goldies in their new pen! They've been in for a few weeks and today they came out of their coop for a little fresh air. We have Mom and Dad's remaining two goldies so we are back up to four. Two of our Goldies succumbed to a mysterious illness this fall. So here is a picture taken from the side of the garage to the back forty. You can see the trail made down by me and Andrew walking back and forth to the pen.
And here is a closer look at the pen:
At this end you can see the back door to the chicken tractor. I still have to get it painted. Anyway, this allows me to take care of the tractor without going into the pen. It came in handy on the 26th when the weather was so bad that the goldies got room service.
On the 26th they didn't want out at all and I couldn't blame them. Today though, they had cabin fever. So I shoveled out a little path from the front of their tractor to an area in front of the door where I am putting their food and water.
They really need a space clear of snow. So much so, that they didn't want to even step on the snow at the bottom of the ramp before getting on the path, so they flew over it instead.
One Goldie is reluctant to come out, so I hand feed the other three "scratch" from my hand to lure her out.
"Scratch" is a slightly less decadent mix of seeds and grains than "Harvest Delight" The chicken magazine (that reminded me that chickens need a clear path in deep snow) suggests feeding scratch in the morning and evening to help boost their metabolism, but not so much that they don't eat their regular food. Pictured here are some of the supplements I feed the Goldies. Grit is important now since they can't range. Grit is important to help chickens digest their food. Not pictured is Oyster Shell which helps make egg shells stronger. They aren't laying so it's not as important now, neither is the omega three supplement which I feed them mixed in their feed all summer. There is also a bag of harvest delight, but I am not using it as much now, and a bag of scratch.
And look, the fourth goldie has ventured out for her share of Scratch. It doesn't hurt at all to feed them and their beaks make a typewriter key sound against my palm.
Here is a view of the opposite end of the chicken pen from where I was feeding Scratch. Lots of space for them to roam when snow is gone.
There is a piece of metal roofing over the far end, as is over this end too, shielding the tractor from the elements.
And here is the chicken tractor extension re-purposed into a feeding annex. Later when the weather is better, the water and feed stations will be moved in this area to keep mess down to a minimum.
Here are some close up shots of the Goldies, you can see their feathers are all grown into their fluffy fullness, and not a moment too soon!
Water is going to be the biggest challenge of winter care. They need fresh water everyday. On the worst days I can put the water dish in their tractor, but if quickly fills up with shavings. There isn't an electric source to keep it heated, so I just have to give them water everyday and hope they are smart enough to get it while they can.
Golden comets are cold hardy, and the tractor is built so "tight" that even on a night like this that gets down to 17 degrees, they will be toasty. I pull up the ramp each night to keep most of the cold air out, but there is a little space between the ramp and the doorway to allow for some air in. It's important for there to be some air circulating to keep the chickens from sweating (I know it sounds crazy but it's true) and to keep condensation away, which can lead to frostbite. Remember too there are lots of shavings in there for added insulation. Now that the chicken pen is done (more or less, I have a feeling though that it will be something I'll always be tinkering with) Andrew will be pruning the grapes later this winter.
And here is the lavender. Let's hope those baby plants were able to take root. They've been in the ground over three months though so here's hoping.
And here is the herb garden under all the snow. So far I've been able to keep that rosemary in the tub, and here I've pulled it out of the garage to get some sun. Can I keep going till spring? We'll see. I lost all the ones I tried to keep in the house. That's all for now. I'll try to post more regularly.