Cool…and Warmth

Last night we had a freeze, with temperatures down around 30 (F) degrees. Brrr. I confess that I turned on the furnace last night. I try to last into October before I turn on the furnance, but 30 is a bit too cold to not have heat. I’m not quite ready for it to be this cold yet. I commented to EJ today that we actually only have three months of T-shirt weather here in Northern Michigan. The rest of the months we wear coats, jackets, or sweatshirts. I actually prefer cooler weather so it’s ok. It’s just kind of a shock when the weather turns cold.

Because of the freeze warning, I harvested the last of the herbs and got them into the dehydrator yesterday afternoon.

EJ called the farm where we bought our straw last year, but the farmer said they were all out; people were buying early this year. He said he had sold some of his straw to one of the farm stores so EJ called them and they said they had some. Of course, it was a little more expensive because we weren’t buying directly from the farmer, but at least we were able to get some. The farm store is right on EJ’s route to work so he just left early and stopped in to buy what we needed.

This morning I unloaded the ten bales of straw from the pickup, loading two at a time in the wheelbarrow and taking them to the coop. EJ said Hannah Joy ran from window to window as she followed my progress around the house.

We use the straw bales to provide insulation for the coop. There are different opinions about whether or not to heat a coop in the winter, but we choose not to for two reasons” 1. it’s too easy for a coop to catch on fire from a heat source and 2. If the chickens get used to a heated coop and then the power goes out, they will suffer more from the cold. I give the chicken’s some cracked corn to eat when the weather turns cold. Digesting the corn raises their body temperature, which also helps warm the coop.

The original plan was for EJ to have three bales for his garden, but I ended up using them all. I did give him the old poopy bale leftover from last year (chicken poop is good fertilizer), and he can easily stop in at the farm store again for a few more bales.

The Fancy Coop on the left. The old dog house on the right.

Our coop is actually a 10′ x 12′ shed. Inside the coop, we have a fancy coop that we bought from Tractor Supply Co. and a heavy wooden dog house that the previous owners had left behind when they moved. I huffed and puffed to pull the dog house away from the wall a bit so I could fit two straw bales between it and the wall. Otherwise, the bales I put in front of the chickens’ little “back door” blocks the entrance to the doghouse. I don’t mind that the bales between the wall and doghouse will provide more insulation. I also put bales on the fancy coop and the platforms I had built for roosts.

The chickens, as always, were very curious about what I was doing and followed me around. They also kept climbing on the bales and checking them out. Chickens are very curious critters.

Once EJ woke up and got some pancakes and coffee into him, he went out to his garden. I think he covered up the few not-yet-ready-to-harvest plants. He also put two of his hot pepper plants in a large pot and brought it into the house. As an experiment, we are going to see if we can keep it alive during the winter. I also put some of my herbs in pots a week or so ago to see if I can keep them alive. I haven’t had much luck in past years but “hope springs eternal” even in the middle of winter.

I’m resting now from my hard work. But as I sit in my chair and look out the window, I see the hummingbird feeder. I think I will bring it in and put it away because I’m sure the hummingbirds have all left for their trek south. I also need to bring in the birdbath.

We are expecting another freeze tonight. The furnace is staying on.

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