Sunday, November 16, 2008

Snow Birds

You may know what I am talking about when I mention snow birds. Snow birds are people who are fortunate enough to have the option of spending the warmer months in Michigan and the colder months someplace warm. They either have second homes in Florida or the Carolinas, or they have an RV and they drive until they can take off their jackets.

Mother Nature gave all of the local deer hunters a big present today: 2" of nice, packy, perfect-for-making-a-snowman, snow. My chickens came flooding outside today, like they usually do, only to discover that the ground was covered with a mysterious white substance that wasn't all that tasty. Today, they weren't much in the mood to play in the snow. I think they were talking about joining the snow birds.

Cuckoo Maran keeping her toes dry.

Cool and the gang hanging out, reminiscing about the good old days of foraging. (Yes, the gold one in front is one of my Buff Orpington roosters)



Japanese Bantams: A study in white



This was a challenge for Ruth to get a clear photo with so much white to get washed out. She tried several different settings and settled on this one, which shut down the aperture and allowed the camera to decide on the shutter speed. If you can click on the photo below, check out the amazing feathers on these chickens. They are less than half the size of my regular chickens! I think I need to find them a girlfriend. Maybe someone will trade me a bantam hen for one of these roosters?

You can see the electric poultry mesh behind the bantams. I have grown extremely fond of this method of keeping the chickens in and keeping predators out. I haven't lost a single chicken to a predator. It delivers a nice jolt, and keeps working away 24/7. I am thinking about dismantling it soon for the winter and making the chickens stay indoors except for the times when I am home.

So far, they seem to be plenty warm! I am planning to apply vaseline to all of their combs next weekend. Vaseline helps insulate their combs from the cold. Want to join me for that???!

43 comments:

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

Your chickens are beautiful! Especially the Japanese Bantams. I have never raised chickens where it snows so have no idea how they react to it. Seems yours are very accustomed to it.

Don said...

Seeing how it was their first day and they hardly walked around in it and squawked at me as if it were my fault, yeah, they did ok!!

The bantams are pretty!

Sharon said...

They look beautiful against all of that white. I hope Ruth brings her camera to your Vaseline party next week, I can't wait to see that! :)

Denise said...

As you know, I am chicken challenged. I haven't been on a farm since I visited one in Kindergarten back in 1972. Here in the 'burbs, we aren't allowed to have farm animals. And, although my degree is in Biology, I never studied chickens. I have boatloads of silly questions, that a child might have. I'll start with just one tonight.

OK, here it goes (cringing)... Do you have to keep your roosters separate from the hens?

Oh, I have an observation. If I were a single hen, I'd be batting my eyelashes at that handsome Buff Orpington rooster. He's a 10!

Ruth said...

I just found out tonight I am expected to be at the Vaseline party, Sharon. Don plans to goop 'em up when they're roosting just before beddy, so I don't think I'll have to touch any combs. Thank you for giving me the added excuse that I need to photograph them, not administer frost-bite-protection. I mean, what do you think a comb feels like? Eeeeewww.

Claire said...

Oh, a comb is smooth and silky feeling and warm. I enjoy rubbing vaseline into their feet and combs and wattles. It is a chicken bonding moment. They seem to enjoy it also. I'll be joining the vaseline party too, from here in Iowa!

Don said...

sharon: you make it sound like we need to wear togas!

hmmm, maybe...

Sharon said...

It does conjure funny images. I think what would be funniest though is too see Ruth take over the winterizing while YOU take the pictures!!!

Don said...

denise:it's too bad that more urban communities aren't like ann arbor, mi in that they allow residents to have hens in their backyards. I think the day is fast approaching when all comunities will allow hens!

Answer to your question about roosters and hens. No, you don't need to keep them separate, in fact, you don't need a rooster at all, unless you want to have fertilized eggs. Hens will lay eggs regardless of "fooling around."

Don said...

ruth: I like what claire said and also what sharon added. The combs and wattles are interesting to the touch. I think we need some Carol Merrill action

Don said...

claire: it sounds like you are the expert holistic chicken healer!

Don said...

sharon: maybe your deer needs a little vaseline on that antler?!

Sharon said...

Luckily the stupid thing has fallen off early. I'm embarrassed to say all things I've tried; including using one of Zoe's scrunchies to suspend it from the other antler......but that's a secret. It wasn't very dignified for anyone involve. :)

Susan said...

Don, my chickens will be experiencing their first snow this morning. We have a dusting on the ground, a little more on the roofs. I'll be sure to take the camera. I'm sure I'll hear lots of complaints. Mine are very vocal!

Those bantams are gorgeous! Kudos to Ruth for the fab photos! Do your bantams and big breeds have any trouble getting along?

I love the feel of their wattles. It's just like soft ear lobes, only silkier. I have a thing for ear lobes!

jennifer's farmily said...

Chickens are so funny about snow! They had been getting LOUDER and LOUDER until I finally opened the door last winter and there was a good 3 feet of snow drifted against the door. They all were making a beeline for the door and ran into each other when they stopped after seeing the white stuff. They're so funny!!

warren said...

Egads! You have snow! We are supposed to get 10" in the mountains but here in the valley we may only get a dusting...that's still too much for me! Anyhow, I am glad you figured out how to get a pic of the white birds...very pretty!

Pine Pod Farm said...

Nice pictures Don but I am glad we didn't get much snow here, it has all melted now!

Amy

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, pass on the vaseline, but hey take pics!! My parents were snowbirds, they went down to Yuma every winter before my mom passed.

Loring Wirbel said...

Wow, the J-Bantams against the snow were wonderful shots. As Sharon said, Ruth should be able to get great results out of the Vaseline-a-go-go.

Mrs. M. said...

I'm sorry, snow birds on this end are completely different looking!!

They are the creatures who decide to turn right at the last moment from the left turn lane....

...which is why I fear having another student driver in the house! ;)

Don said...

sharon: That would have been quite a story for some deer hunter, or some hiker. Imagine what the reaction would be to see a deer running around with a scrunchie!?

You are truly living large

Don said...

susan: snow makes life interesting. I had ice in my water this morning in the coop. I have a water heater, and it is time to get it going!

The bantams get chased around a little, but they are getting a little more aggressive with the girls, as if they think they have a chance at love.

Don said...

That's a lot of snow for November!, or maybe for you it isn't?

Chickens are funny to watch, they have reactions to new things that can be comical.

Don said...

warren: winter cometh. Thoughts of "High Plains Drifter" come to my mind as I think of you in the shadow of mountains...

Don said...

amy: I have lived in places where we got no snow and places where we got lots of snow and I think I like Michigan, kinda right in the middle.

Don said...

bob: are you old enough to remember Johnny Yuma? I can still recall a lot of the song: "Johnny Yuma was a rebel, he roamed through the west..."

Don said...

loring: That is so funny you should say that about vaseline a go-go. What is the root for that "phrase; a go-go?"

Don said...

mrs. m: half the drivers in MI drive like that. the other half is in Fla driving like that.

What the world needs is another teenage driver! Teach her well, especially all of the good words you and Garland use when the snow birds do their turning deeds

Juri said...

Great blog! I love the pictures of your chickens! I did smile, as we live in Florida and the only snow birds I know are those that come for the winter from other states!

Juri

Don said...

juri: thanks for taking good care of our snow birds. They love it down there!

Loring Wirbel said...

Don, root for go-go is Gauguin. Nah, probably has something to do with the Shindig TV series.

laura said...

Snow already, wow! Your chickens look great; beautiful colors. I'd like to try to paint them sometime! I love the first snow here, when the cats go out, so bewildered. especially my black one, the hunter, who I think doesn't like being so exposed against the white!

Ginnie said...

You need to tell Ruth that her snow images are FABULOUS, Don. Oh my. I'm not sure I have ever seen chickens in the snow, so this is just delightful to see. You are clearly the Farmer/Father, wanting to take care of your brood. I love it. And Vaseline on the combs...didn't that happen in certain periods of our own recent time!!! :D

Laurie Kruczek said...

"it's too bad that more urban communities aren't like ann arbor, mi in that they allow residents to have hens in their backyards. I think the day is fast approaching when all comunities will allow hens!"

Hey Don, nice to see your blog here, as Ruth pulled me over from her cool blog, which I also just found recently. I wanted to let you know that on my blog, I just reprinted a story from Newsweek about urban chicken keeping. I think you would enjoy it, as it is right on that same topic you just mentioned.

As for the bantam boys and full-sized hens, I have seen bantam roosters climb up on large hens and do their business. If the hens want to mate, they will have their chance!

Now that big boy BO might not be so agreeable to sharing his harem, but you never know. I have a Cuckoo Marans roo that shares his girls with a new Easter Egger roo, and they never fight about it. I thought, "I'm going to risk it and just stick this other roo in here for winter" and strangely enough, they all get along. As long as the little EE knows my CM is boss, he shares his girls.

The chicken world blows my mind sometimes LOL!

Stiggy said...

Hey Don! Sorry - been very busy with the new house - man it's non stop!

Your newbies are beautiful my friend!

I love the snow - when it snowed this year I loved walking round with it laying in the branches, and crunching underfoot.

Again - great photos from Ruth!

:D

Don said...

loring: the shindig tv show, wow that takes me back! you know all about the good stuff

Don said...

laura: you can paint my chickens any time you want!

your predator black cat probably hates snow!

Don said...

ginnie: are you referring to all the vaseline in slicked back hair? or do you have other things you are referring to?

Don said...

laurie: thanks for dropping by! I have seen the little bantams flirting, but haven't witnessed any hanky-panky!

Don said...

stiggy: I'm glad you are moved into your newly refurbished home. I hope all is well with all the details

Deborah Carr said...

My first visit here...thank you for elevating what most feel are expendable to a creature of value and exquisite beauty.

We recently sold our 'old' farmhouse with its lovely rustic barn to a young couple who just started a chicken coop. Something I always wanted to do...

But, now I can visit my lovely old home and chuckle at chickens. Or I can visit your blog and chuckle, too.

Don said...

deborah: I hope you are enjoying your new abode! Chickens certainly make me chuckle a lot.

Your blog is a thing of beauty!

Thanks for stopping by...

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