Collecting eggs

One of my daily routines is to collect eggs from the two chicken coops.

Some of the chickens lay in the nice roll-out boxes I built in the new coop, where the eggs roll down a gentle slope for easy collection from outside the coop:

But most of them seem to prefer to lay in the boxes (or floor!) of the old coop. Here are some eggs under Martha, who has been feeling broody for a while:

And in another box:

I collect them in a plastic carrier that holds a dozen, though sometimes I have 13 or more:

I bring them inside, and put them into egg cartons. A tip: I put them small-end first, which makes them stay fresh longer, as the air bubble remains at the top:

Here’s a closer view of a carton, with a custom stamp for our Yellow Cottage Homestead, and a date stamp:

I don’t wash the eggs; the bloom on them also helps keep them fresh. When it’s time to use them, I simply wash them then (in warm water; cold would draw any bacteria into the egg). Here is a freshly-washed bowl of eggs, ready to be boiled:

Gas holder & feed store supplies

Before I could mow I needed to get some gas (petrol for non-US readers) for the mowers. Securing the gas cans in the bed of the truck is always a bit tricky, so on a whim I whipped up a wooden holder for them, that contains them securely:

It’s attached to the bed both via a bungee across the top, and a hook directly onto an attachment ring, so it won’t slide around:

I also did my monthly run to the local feed store (15 minutes away; the closest shops to home), where I got several bags of chicken feed, bird seed, and peanuts for the jays:

Several inches of snow

Yesterday was predicted to have 2 to 5 inches of snow, but nothing much eventuated during the day:

However, in the evening it picked up a bit:

And continued overnight, culminating in almost 8 inches this morning:

The camera that watches the front of the cat shelter was buried:

Another angle; the front of the cat shelter is in the middle of the photo:

The chickens were not impressed:

And once again the chicken run roof netting didn’t fare too well:

We took Rory out for a walk in the snow; she loved it. Here we’re checking on the beehives; her one chance to get so close to them:

The chicken coop:

Frozen pond:

View of the pond arbor, brown gazebo, and trees:

Snow on a tree near the white gazebo:

Our new apple trees might be regretting coming here:

Rory really loved scampering in the snow:

Bird feeders:

The cat shelter again:

Snow!

It unexpectedly snowed overnight. Apparently areas above an elevation of 1,000 feet around the Portland region received some snow… and we’re at 1,100 feet.

Only about an inch, and it’s raining now, so it’ll probably be gone later today. But still fun to enjoy it while it lasts.

The feral cats are cozy in their heated shelter:

But the weight of the snow tore down the end of the chicken run roof netting:

So I went out with a staple gun and ladder to fix it:

Snow on the brown gazebo and trees:

Snow on the white gazebo:

The pond deck arbor:

The beehives:

Notice the clearer patch in the center of the roof, from the heat of the bees clustered inside:

Chicken sign & stamp

Jenn gave me a couple of chicken-themed gifts for Christmas: a sign for the coop, and a stamp for the egg cartons.

The sign is a fun custom one via Etsy, that says “Coopacabana, est. 2017”. That’s our name for the new coop, since it was painted in bright Caribbean-inspired colors:

The stamp was also via Etsy, and says “Farm Fresh Eggs, Yellow Cottage Homestead, Laid On: _______”, with a space for the date stamp I use to mark when the eggs were laid.

Today I made a wooden block to act as a brace for an egg carton while stamping the top. The cartons we use have a perforation down the middle, so they can be split into two six-packs, so I made the block with two parts, connected in the middle, to fit that carton style. (I actually made it out of a single 2×4, but in retrospect it would have been easier and tidier to make two separate blocks and connect them together via another bit of wood; oh well.)

Chicken coop: heated water

It’s getting cold, starting to drop below freezing at night, so it’s time to put out the waterer heaters. Each of the coops now has a metal water dispenser that sits on a heated base. The base only comes on when the temperature drops below freezing, to warm up the water a little, just enough to prevent it from freezing:

The coops themselves aren’t heated or insulated. It may seem counterintuitive, but providing heat is actually bad for the chickens — since a sudden power loss could result in them freezing to death. If they gradually get used to colder temperatures, they build up fat and fluff to keep themselves warm. They also snuggle together while roosting.

The main requirements for winter are to prevent the water from freezing (and thus preventing them from drinking it), avoiding cold drafts while ensuring ventilation, and collecting eggs more often so they don’t freeze (and crack).