Homestead Update: Entering Mid-Winter
It snowed again after a handful of mild winter weeks with temperatures in the mid 30s and 40s. Part of me was tricked, yet again, thinking that maybe this year winter wouldn’t be so harsh in January. But Mother Nature knew better. So here we are with another few inches of snow and chickens who don’t like to get their feet cold. That means that all of their poop gets directed towards area of our farm that are not currently covered in snow like the two porches, one in front of the farmhouse and the other in front of the country store. Oh, the joys of having chickens in winter! Not to mention that we now have 34 of them. That’s a lot more poop.
Still, I plan to add even more hens to our flock this upcoming spring. Someone once told me that’s chicken math. You just keep wanting more! And they truly are a gateway drug towards other farm animals, though I think we will just be sticking with chickens for now. As much as I would love to branch out and maybe try different types of poultry again this spring… It’s best that we just keep it simple this year.
The hens themselves are doing really well. They’re laying fairly consistently for this time of year, and we get an average of 15-20 eggs per day, which is decent for most winter hens. The daylight hours are shorter and there’s not much for them to do outside to keep them happy. The coop is trashed much more quickly due to snow, high winds, and colder temperatures. I am truly excited for the day that they can go back out on fresh grass and our egg count jumps back into the 30s. I try my hardest to send kitchen scraps out their way so that they can keep some fresh food in their diet like lettuce, vegetable scraps, cooked noodles, and bread.
We are also experiencing living with outdoor cats in the winter months. Their little room, which is insulated, also has a heat lamp where they can rest and keep warm. It’s the same lamps we use to brood spring chicks, and I think that they really enjoy it because I often see them piled up underneath it in the evenings to sleep. It’s been nice having cats that live outside, I must admit.
Our dog, Charlie, will eventually move outside too once the weather becomes more mild. If you missed it on Instagram, we welcomed a new furry friend to the farm. For Christmas, we surprised my dad with an English Golden Retriever/Labrador mix puppy who we named Charlie. She’s the sweetest dog and is growing so fast! I wish I had more photos of her, but she’s proven difficult to capture without being a giant blurry blob of fur and tongue.
As for the rest of the homestead, well I’ve been spending a lot of my time detoxing from the past year and just being present in these lazy yet somehow draining months. Little by little I am pulling the pieces together for our garden/field plans and honestly just have these big ideas floating around in my head without any real makeup of how to get there. That’s not saying I don’t know how - I feel like entering my third year of growing that I know what needs to be done, and maybe that I do not have to be so meticulous about getting there. If anything, I feel more comfortable taking my time ordering seeds and getting the plants started. In years past, I’ve wanted to get started right now and find myself wasting a lot of energy anticipating the beginning of the season.
We spend a lot of our time working in the Country Store and prepping for spring. We knew that our first winter in the shop would be slow and filled with experimental hours. We have big plans for spring and are excited to share them as they unfold. One of my favorite events coming up are our various workshops! If you are local, you should sign up for one!
This winter is surprisingly easier than others in years past. I know that last winter, as you might remember as well, I went through an incredibly depressing period. We had just moved, and while I felt excitement for the year ahead, I was also filled with fear, doubt, and loss. Now I know that all will be well for another year. We have a system in place, and while maybe not all of the crops will be perfect and successful, at least something will make it. That’s a huge reason why we decided to diversify our farm!
For the next few weeks I’ll be reading, ordering and starting seeds, cooking up the rest of 2018’s garden preserves, and cooking with all of the meat still in our freezer. It’s the perfect time to reflect and fill up on good food! Not to mention I can get my fill of all of my favorite movies before I’m too tired and busy to watch them in the summer.
Who’s ready to watch us get sore all over again this spring? I know that I am!