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).