Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Funky Weather, Funky Chickens

Has the weather been bothering you lately? It's been driving me nuts. Five degrees one day with blowing snow, 40 degrees F the next day, with rain and mud, mud, MUD is not my idea of a good time. All these ups and down in the weather aren't helping the crops and the animals, either.

When soil temperatures fluctuate this much, fruit trees and perennial plants and bulbs can break dormancy, only to get frozen again. And the freezing and thawing of the earth causes it to "heave" which means that the soil pushes the plant's roots out of the ground. Add to this the fact that fruits like apples need a certain number of hours of below-freezing temperatures to set lots of fruit the next year, and the warmer weather helps insect larvae survive, these new weather patterns always worry me.

The hens aren't happy, either. Chickens like everything nice and predictable. Every time we have a weather swing, our egg production goes down and the egg size changes. That's why we have fewer eggs available this week--first the swing to the colder temps and then the swing back up to warmer has really messed with their systems.

They do like to go out and play once the wind isn't blowing so fiercely. Chickens stay nice and warm all winter because their feathers are waterproof as well and warm and insulating.

Snow birds

Of course, what chickens are REALLY good at is making a mess. Since there's so much snow on the ground, I've been throwing some hay to the goats when I put them out. Look what those stinker chickens did to my hay pile!

Chickens and goats: Messmakers extraordinaire

If you've ever been around goats, then you know that the chickens aren't the only ones making a mess. See that green fence in the picture above? That fence used to surround the area we use when we want to separate some chickens from the flock. In the summer, for example,  it's used for pullets that are too young to be in with the hens. 

The goats had other ideas about this fence--they seem to think that I put that fence up just for them. They had a really great time standing on the fence and systematically pulling it down, and now they enjoy jumping back and forth over it. Goats and chickens definitely know how to keep themselves amused.

That's it until next week! Keep warm.