Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Winter's Tale

Even though we are nine days away from the official start of Old Man Winter, he has let us know that he is not to be confined by any old date. He will not be controlled.

My flock of chickens has prepared for his coming by moulting in October to replace the feathers Khan (former rooster, now organically merged with the forest), removed during his lustful moments. I now have a total of 41 hens, and two roosters. They are learning to fluff up their built-in down jackets as they roost for the night. The Cochins have become popular roost partners as they are very fluffy. Last night as I went in to turn off their light and do a head count, one of the Aracaunas actually had her head buried in the poofy feathers of Broody, (Partridge Cochin). It wasn't even that cold! (13 degrees F)

We now have about 5 inches of snow on the ground. It is nice to walk around the fields and woods and see the different sets of tracks in the snow. I am amazed at how busy one squirrel can be!

A flock of sparrows, (English, I believe), has discovered that the Green Barn is a great place to get out of the weather. Bishop the Barn Cat has taken a great interest in hanging out in the barn as well. Hmm, I sense a connection here.

I forgot to bring in the last three pumpkins of the season and they have frozen in the barn. I wonder if I can still salvage some golden puree from them? You know I'm gonna try!

I managed to seal up 27 bottles of home-made vanilla today. Ruth and I will decide to whom we will give a little Holiday cheer. I know, I am going to randomly draw a name from all who comment here and send you a bottle of my vanilla. If you read this boring post, you deserve a chance at something of interest. I will draw a name next Saturday.

As I sit here typing, I am losing the fading light of today and will not get photos if I don't get out there. OK, I just decided that I am going to post a no-photo update today.

Thanks for reading today. I hope you are having a great day.

35 comments:

freefalling said...

4.22pm and the light is fading?
Sheesh.
What time does the sun come up?
And how long does it stay light til in Summer?
And 13F isn't that cold!!!??
It's about 60F here at the moment (sun morn -10am) and I have the heater going full bore!

Don said...

Freefalling: In the summer we have amazingly long days

December 12
Sunrise: 7:57am
Sunset: 5:03pm

June 21
Sunrise: 5:59am
Sunset: 9:18pm

Lanny said...

Good to hear things are going well at the Green Barn still. It is nice that winter has some interesting points to help us get through it all and get to the otherside and what we all really love to do, plant and grow stuff!

Mike Simmons said...

Like your blog Don. I've been following you since the summer. This is my first year with a small flock (14). What does the temperature hover around in the barn in the winter? I have a couple 100 watt bulbs in my coup, which seem to be doing the job for now (temp has been as low as 20 here).

Country Girl said...

Have been mising you Don. I have not been as present lately either. Life seems to get in the way. I try and post once a week and peek in here and there at others when I can. I made vanilla extract too but haven't packaged into bottles yet, what did you use?

Sandy said...

I enjoyed reading the update. YOu make home made vanilla, how cool!!

Shell said...

My chickens avoid the snow like their lives depend on it. lol Hooray for winter.

I've been wanting to make some vanilla for ages and I keep getting side tracked. Add me to your drawing list please!! :)

Don said...

lanny: you are so right about the gardening! I am already thinking about what, how, why, etc.

I'll have lots of good compost this year!!

Don said...

Mike: thanks for following! I have a light on for about 14 hours per day during the winter. I also have a brooder/heat lamp haning over the roosting area for the really cold nights, (below zero) My chickens seem to do well with this. I usually get a few frozen eggs tho!

I also have an electric waterer so they always have fresh liquid water!

Don said...

country girl: I found some amber 4 oz. bottles on line pretty cheap and have 27 bottles ready to go. I also had an old bottle of rum someone gave me and I dumped that into one of the mason jars with all of the leftover vanilla pods and it is already smelling really good!

I love your post about finding a Christmas tree on your farm!

Don said...

sandy: making vanilla is rather easy and makes awesome gifts!

Don said...

shell: I don't like having roosters, but always end up with some when I let my hens brood, and I was holding one of them today and on an impulse tossed him into the snow and he just stood there for about five minutes. I felt kinda bad, but it was rather comical!

Hana_Caena said...

I'm nowhere near having my own place to garden and breed poultry of different kinds, but boy, I do like to read about it, wishing I someday have the chans to do the same..

Greetings!

Razzberry Corner said...

Hello, Don & Ruth. This is the first time I've actually read your blog - so I guess I'm new to the Green Barn! My husband & I are starting our farm - we recently got chickens & are learning how to raise them. I think we have about 15 cockerels and maybe 5 pullets - we only want 1 or 2 roosters!! Plus we have 4 guinea keets. So we'll see how this works out! It's cold here in MD, although not as cold as you in Michigan, I'm sure! Stay warm! ~Lynn

Don said...

hana caena: Welcome to you all the way from Sweden! I hope you can someday have your own garden and chickens. Both are kinda messy!!

Don said...

razzberry: thanks for visiting! I am at the point in my chicken career where I really don't want ANY roosters, so good luck with your 15! Are they heading for the freezer?. or are they farmyard decorations?

Mel said...

Yes, Old Man Winter is making his rounds in our area as well. I don't mind winter, however, it's the winter wind I do mind. Definately makes chores more difficult!

Homemade vanilla, yummie~ my mother used to make homemade vanilla. Sounds delicious!

We have an old silo attached to the back half of our place, where the pigeons, and crackles like to hang out, we also have an avid hunter (cat) who knows just how to provide his own snacks. I have never seen him with a pigeon, however, he has caught several other varieties of birds.

Bundle up and stay warm...

Mel

Don said...

mel: thans for stopping by! I am enjoying reading about your life in New York. It sounds like you get a lot more snow than we do here in Central Michigan.

Susan said...

Can you believe 2 of my hens just started molting a week ago?!!! They better hurry up and get those feathers back on or they're gonna freeze their little tushies! Don't the ones who have their full featherage back look so beautiful? I think they're even prettier than before they molted.

I wasn't getting any eggs and finally had to put a light on a timer for them. I'm back up to about 6/day. I guess the comeback is tied to the length of time since they molted, eh?

Oh yeah, did I mention that I just love good vanilla? ;)

Debbie said...

I miss my girls so much. This spring will find me cleaning out the shed for the hens I hope to have again and evicting the opposum that has taken up residence in there.

Your vanilla sounds wonderful. I bake a lot and can just imagine how good things would taste. I keep wanting to make some myself but always forget about it. *hoping you draw my name* :)

Take Care Don and Stay Warm,
Debbie

Don said...

Susan: THey probably do look better with the new feathers. New feathers are better than two-year old feathers?

At first I thought I had some sickness going through, but then realized they were just molting, I mean moulting. I prefer the British way.

Don said...

Debbie: good luck with the possum! be careful, they can bite and you don't want rabies shots!!

What kind of chickens will you gete?

freefalling said...

Someone else is writing about vanilla
http://moroccanmaryam.typepad.com/my_marrakesh/2009/12/marrakech-a-tale-of-life-and-a-recipe-for-pure-extract.html

Ginnie said...

LOL at the chickens who aren't dumb (Aracaunas). And the flock of sparrows. And Bishop, the barn cat. And Don, the Farmer. We might get snow here in Holland on Friday. It's cold enough for it, mind you, but not as predictable as Michigan. We're close to our shortest day of the year, which makes this the coziest time of the year for me...with candles. I love it. Truly a Winter's Tale. :)

Carole@Fowl Visions said...

Your write up sounds so peaceful. And homemade vanilla!! Yum!

julie king said...

i love visiting your blog! i'm not sure if i've shared this with you or not but my dream is to retire (soon?!) to a little farm near my family in indiana. i'd really like to raise chickens, have a big garden, fish from the pond live a simpler life that does not include working for a big corporation. of course, i would blog about all of it. hee hee

i wish we had snow here mostly because i'd like to be out taking photographs! i'm headed over to ruth's blogs to see if she has posted any snow photos.

take care to both of you!

Ruth said...

Phew, I'm so glad I didn't disappoint Julie and had posted a snow photo.

Now I want to go inspect the chickens to see if their feathers are making them look more photogenic than they did in the summer, poor things, with their bald heads, backs and other parts.

Mmmm, homemade vanilla. Did I tell you lately how lucky I am?

Shari Sunday said...

Not sure my previous comment took. I was telling you about my childhood barn memories. I won't repeat but I will say I enjoy your blog and Ruth's very much. I think I found yours first actually. I love the idea of barns and snow and livestock and gardens, but not so much the actual work. I think 13 degrees is bitterly cold!!!

Ducky said...

I'm part of the reading about it, till I can get a place to garden and have chickens as well. It's great to get a glance into the seasonal changes and needs of a flock.

Vanilla? Yummy!!!!

Dale Calder said...

I enjoy reading about your hens. I haven't had hens for many years now and I still miss them. I like to travel too much so I no longer have livestock of any kind. It was minus 16 degrees C. here on the Canadian east coast this morning so the girls would have been chilly here too.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I love hearing about your chickens and felt like I could see them fluffing up their downy coats. I also enjoyed walking with you around the fields. Thank you so much.~~Dee

Jen's Farmily said...

I miss daylight savings time. At least then I could get home from work before it was dark!!

5" of snow already? Whew. Don't envy you there!!

Stiggy said...

Hi Don,
sounds like similar weather - we've just had 6" of snow - absolutely beautiful!

I'm doing what I can for my 'ladies' by heaping enormas amounts of straw everywhere in the vague hope it'll help. Next year I hope to rig up some kind of solar affair to power a heat lamp at night.

Good to hear you're still blogging - a lot of us are lapsing due to real life (cor what a bore eh!?)

What are your plans for Christmas? Family visiting?

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A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

My Girls are just starting to feather up nicely again,Though I am having huge issues with soft shells....Can't seem to rectify!

The sound of homemade vanilla! WOW!