Saturday, February 14, 2015

How do we do it?

It's winter and we're near Boston. How do we do it??? I am starting to wonder that myself but here are a few photos of the menagerie, and how we handle them.

Besides their insulated coop, the chickens have a dug out for fresh air. At this point, it is covered from the top by a small roof and from one side by a wall of snow, so they're pretty sheltered. As long as they have straw to stand on, they don't mind the cold. I have 11 hens in a coop that is sized for 8, so I try my hardest to give them a bit of extra room.


Inside, they have a heat lamp in a ceramic fitting, and that is regulated by a thermo-cube. It turns on when the temp goes too close to freezing, and keeps the water in the waterer from going solid.
The waterer is a clever gadget, made from a rubbermaid container and a pair of aqua miser nipples. This way, the water stays clean and doesn't spill, and the chickens don't need that much of it. Sadly, they really prefer to drink from a regular dish, so we take them fresh water every day, but it is good to have a backup plan that is always available and never dirty or spilled.

They have a lamp that is on a timer, giving them the illusion of longer days, and keeping them laying steadily through this their first winter. Being first years, they would likely lay anyway, but who doesn't like a bit of bright light in the winter? Since we have the heat generation on a separate circuit, I use a CFL lightbulb to save energy. I will keep this one running through the March equinox.

The bees have gotten fall feedings, and then a candy board and are wrapped for winter. It is do or die time for them. The only help they get from me now is that I shovel their entrances. I don't want melt water to run from the entrance boards into the hives, where it could create indoor icicles under the wrong conditions. Getting through the winter for the bees is all about thermodynamics. They eat only to stay warm, and every time they have to expend energy to dry up a mess of water, or to re-heat the hive after a curious beek has opened it, it brings them a little closer to starvation.

In front of the hives (pre-shoveling), you see a bunch of dead bees. This is actually a good sign. Bees are diligent undertakers, and when they have casualties in the hive, they do their best to dispose of them outside, a bit away from the hive. Only a healthy hive has extra energy to devote to this daunting task, though. I have been very impressed with how far from the hive the bodies have been dumped, giving the harsh conditions around here these days!

So here we are, and wait, and wonder if it is time to build an ark, for when spring will finally arrive?

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog thru One Sweet World. : ) I hope you're safe in the horrible weather you are having there. I'm in New York. We had a couple of inches of snow yesterday but now it's just very windy. I'm so glad your chickens and bees are doing well. I think I'd end up having my chickens living in the house if I had chickens. LOL!! Have a great Sunday!! : )

    ~ Wendy