Every month this year is my first of its kind for being a mother to chickens. Here we are at the end of my first January, and I’m continuing to learn new things like the rookie that I am.
As soon as it got below freezing I learned that outdoor water feeding with “chicken nipples” does not work in the cold. We switched to a heated water dispenser, and I thought that was the end of that lesson. I refilled the tank about every three days, when it got close to empty. Now, I’ve noticed that even if it is half full sometimes they quit drinking and get quite excited when I fill it again. I’ve concluded that this is because they sometimes kick dirt and waste up into the tray and it probably tastes terrible. Now, I check the tray and either swish it out into the snow a couple times or dump the whole thing and start over, fresh.
I also learned that it works best when you invert the tank and fill it, then screw the red lid on and carry it back to the coop. Be very careful when you invert it back right side up because if it twists even a little bit, you get three gallons of cold water dousing your legs and boots as it slips apart. Not a fun experience, and even after learning it once, accidents still happen now and then, just to keep one humble.
Here’s something I don’t understand, and maybe one of my farm blogging friends could answer. Sometimes I fill the tank with lovely clear water, and other times out comes brown iron-laced water. All from the same well and the same pump. It’s a minor mystery. The chickens don’t seem to care, but it does leave a bit of rust in the dish.
I loved the idea of natural fertilizer from the composted chicken waste. We took a guess how to build a compost box and imagined what would be the best location. Now, here it is not quite February and the box is almost full. What am I going to do with the rest of the winter’s supply? We have 11 chickens now, after finding a new home for Buster the accidental rooster. Maybe there was a poop calculator out there to estimate square feet of poop per chicken, thus how big to build the box, but we just used the lumber scraps we had and took our chances. Another lesson learned.
I’ve learned that the Vaseline method of protecting a rooster’s comb is something that only works if you are willing to attend to it on a daily basis. About every couple weeks, I’ll pick Cooper up and smear goo onto the tips of his comb, and all I can hope is that it helps it heal up. We’ll see how it looks next spring when it has survived the first year of cold weather.
Anyway, chickens are good for getting me out at least once a day in the fresh air to care for my feathered children. The dogs are thrilled when they see me putting on my rubber boots and barn coat because it means a trip out to see what’s new. I love having chickens and wouldn’t give them up.