Freezing February

The past few days and nights have been bitterly cold, snowing on and off but not enough to settle as it did last month. Despite the cold I forced myself outside to do some jobs in the garden yesterday, first up was tackling the area behind the chicken runs which became a dumping ground for things such as off cuts of timber, chicken wire and other bits and bobs we collect throughout the year with every intention of using them. After a good sort through most of it went in the outbuilding, the area is now clear and ready for some new compost bins that we plan to build using pallets very soon. Next on the list was cutting back wild brambles that had tangled themselves around the tops of the apple trees, I found this very easy to do with a pair of long handled loppers. 

We still have quite a few parsnips in the ground and I managed to pull some up for dinner even though the ground was semi frozen. The vibrations from wiggling parsnips free from the soil brought earthworms to the surface, I was aware the whole time I was being watched by the resident Robin, eyeing up an easy meal.

I often work in the garden alone but I’m never lonely, the chickens are usually under my feet and our dog is my shadow, she loves being outside with me whatever the weather (actually that isn’t strictly true she dislikes rain and so do I). She turns 12 in August and slowing down, until she sees a squirrel. 

Chicken Moult

Around this time of year, when our chickens are going through their late autumn moult, coops and pens resemble a chicken crime scene. Huge bundles of feathers strewn everywhere!

For the new chicken keeper, experiencing chicken moult can be alarming. When your flock decide it’s time for a change of clothes their feathers literally drop out overnight, covering the bedding on the coop floor. Sometimes a soft moult is all that’s needed just an area of the body here and there, these partial moults often go on unnoticed but when a hard moult is going on your chickens will look really scruffy for a while, perhaps even naked. Late summer to early winter is usually the time for moult but it can occur at anytime of the year. Your chickens may all go into a moult together or just 1 or 2 at a time.

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