Friday, January 8, 2010

this sure ain't the norm round here

oohhh baby - it actually feels like winter in central texas today - chill chill chilly - wind-a-blowing and dropping temps even further. looks like we hit a wind chill factor of 19˚f overnight. we don't see single digits 'round here all that often but we are expecting the same for the next few days. i find it refreshing. it's quite exhilarating to bundle up, step outside and feel that cold surge through. it reminds you that you're alive that's for sure - good day for a long walk-about in my book.

the chickens fared well. i have the roosting area in their entirely open air coop pretty well insulated from wind and draft. they have heavy canvas duct and/or packing blankets on all sides and above the roosting area where heat escapes first. they've got ventilation on the vertical walls above the roost and below at floor level on the east and south side. there are two heat lamps hung above the roosting area which help the space to remain dry. it seems to do the job as the creatures are out and about this morning doing their chickeny-chicken-chicken thing.

i did have a case of frozen egg explosion. somebody either layed early early or late eve. i cleaned it up out of the nest, broke it up a bit and set it out for treasure hunting. i am sure the remains of the exploded egg loot will soon disappear by way of the clever wiles of hungry searching chickeny pirates.

i treated the two laying flocks to a special warm mash this morning. i am currently out of rolled oats for the usual cool day oatmeal treat so i mixed some of the ladies' organic feed with enough boiling water to make a lumpy mash. i added a few shakes of cayenne pepper which helps to warm up their insides, stirred it up and set it out. they were all over it. i cleared the waterers of ice, collected the unfrozen eggs and gave out a few loving scratches before letting them back to the daily routine of scratching and patrolling the place.

the gardens are flopped over frozen. the ground is loose underneath but the lettuces, greens and cole crops are frosted and wilted over. i would guess most will come back once the temps warm again - we'll see. we got the cold sans an insulating cover of snow. i broke out a few holes in the wild creature deep watering bins. now there's cool drink ready for all folk. the hoses are frozen frozen frozen so it's lugging water out from the house for me. no big deal, the coop is nearly 20 feet away, hardly a trip for complaining about.

opera kitty got over his "i am an outdoor cat, thank you very much" pride just after dinner last night and i for one am glad he did so. the blowing wind got me worried for his health. i set him up on the back enclosed porch with his favorite blankets and his own little space heater. he settled right in. he lived up to his vocal namesake near around 3am singing his i want to head back out song. i got up as i always do, this time with a bit of a smirk on my face. i opened the door for him. ooooooooh no! that boy turned right around, hopped back on to his blanket and i have not heard a peep out of him since. he did head out with me for the morning chores but was right back in once the chores were done. he ain't no dummy that's for sure.

i fixed myself a coffee then got to building a fire in the fireplace. it's a good day for it i figure, relaxing to watch too. the kitties will surely plop themselves down in front to enjoy comfy heat as termite already has. i will enjoy the heat too as houses here in texas are not insulated in the same way those up north are and i cannot afford to run the thermostat at high temps. around here, you know where the drafts are, let me tell you.

i am finding ways to improve the situation as each year goes by. i've got good curtains in every window and on each of the french doors which helps a great deal. they each are made from natural fabrics either linen or cotton, some heavier weight than others. the light that passes through is quite lovely. i have foam inserts around each of the wall outlets and light switch plates, the attic space is well insulated and i was able to replace the insulation under the house last year, we'll see what more i can accomplish this year. i don't know if foam insulation would be an option for this home. i may consider it if cost effective as it would help to keep the cool in and the heat out during summer as well.

in other news,
my little dominique girl has been a little under the weather. i suspect she may be egg bound. i don't feel much up in her eggy areas but i have been treating her for the possibility just the same.
  • calcium, wheat germ oil and liquid b complex by mouth once a day - the calcium helps her to move the egg out, the wheat germ oil provides a good dose of vitamin e, d and a and the liquid b complex gives here a good jolt of energy and helps to keep her from dehydration.
  • rear end lube - yup it's true, you have to help the girl out. she might be a bit dry from the struggle or from the effects of feeling off and the lube will help the egg to move it's way out. i use either mineral oil or ky jelly. never ever ever mineral spirits - only mineral oil. do your girl a favor - make sure it's at least body temperature - keep the goods in a warm spot. there is no point making the situation any more uncomfortable than necessary.
  • i make sure she stays warm, i watch her feeding and drinking habits - which seem to be quite good and watch for worsening effects. if indeed the condition worsens i will consider taking her to the vet for assistance.
  • note - i add apple cider vinegar to the ladies water to increase the number of beneficial microbial flora in the gut which assists the ladies in better absorption of vitamins and minerals. i water with 2 gallon waterers and use approximately 3 tablespoons of acv per full waterer.
* * * * * * * *
  • in regard to the calcium - i find the liquid filled gel caps - not the tablets and not the gel covered tablets.
  • cut the cap open with a scissors to use the inside of the gel caps. squeeze it out onto a small plate. discard the cap cover, only use the inner liquid. it is an oily chalky goo. do not mix with water, it will not break down as it is indeed oil based. you can mix it with wheat germ oil like myself or with olive oil which i also do when i am out of wheat germ oil and either add it to her food or feed it to her via syringe which is what i did this morning. i prefer the syringe as i am better able to monitor her intake.
  • in regard to liquid b complex, chickens seem to love the stuff so that's an easy feed via syringe.
- note -
i am not a vet so take the time to do your own research before treating your own chickeny creatures for any off or ill looking symptoms. there are many folk out there willing to help.

you might wish to check the following avian related forums
backyard chickens
dragonflies and dandelions

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