It’s Summers Time

Winter, The Chickens and Stress
By: Kathy Summers

If you live where it’s cold and snowy Winter and stress just go together. As I write this we are approaching mid-February – still a long time until Spring. And here in Northeast Ohio even after the calendar says it’s Spring, that doesn’t always mean it’s pleasant outside. In the 30+ years I’ve lived here we’ve had some of our biggest blizzards in late March and even early April.

Right about now we’re all getting a little cranky. This past weekend it was nice and sunny enough to just start melting the snow and then it turned bitter cold and guess what happens – all that melting snow turns to ice. The roads have been fine to travel on, but everyone’s driveways have been a real challenge this week. We live on a nasty curve out in the country so sliding out into the road can be a bit risky. And then there is the walking issue – trying to get to the mailbox, fetch the paper, make it to the chicken coop without falling down and hurting yourself. It’s just stressful! It’s stressful on us, on our pets, on our outside animals and certainly on those bees way out in the backyard.

Sunday it was actually sunny enough that the hive we have sitting on our front porch had some flying going on. Everyone is anxious to get outside.

Now I’m not trying to make any of you feel sorry for us, because there are folks who have a lot harder Winter than we do. I’m just making some observations.

The chickens are doing pretty well this Winter. They will be three years old in March, so we’re heading for our fourth Summer with them. We still have 11 – haven’t lost anybody recently. I’ve told you about our wonderful chicken coop – no drafts, bales of straw all around for insulation, windows covered and yes, warming lights. They seem quite happy in there. The lowest temperature we’ve seen in there this Winter is right around 20. Now coming up this weekend we have some minus numbers in the forecast, so I’ll be keeping a closer eye on them.

I have to thank Kim. He has really taken over a lot of the care of the chickens during the Winter months. He has been giving them a lot of protein – more scratch, meal worms and he’s been cutting up the suet blocks that we put in bird feeders. Boy, they love those! We bought some live crickets at the local pet store and thought they would enjoy those, but not so much. The girls just sort of sat there and watched them.

So they’re a little spoiled, but not to the point of coming to live in the house with us. We’re still getting on average three or four eggs a day which I think is pretty good.

We’ve tried letting them outside on a sunny day, but they won’t go out when there is snow on the ground. It’s like watching a cartoon – the leader starts out the door, sees the snow, stops short and everyone following close behind crashes into each other.

“There can be as much as a month between the first day of Spring and the first Spring day.”
– Henry Van Dyke

Lots of folks ask if these three-year-old chickens are headed for the soup pot this year. I’m keeping a close eye on our older neighbor and my chickens. He grew up on a farm and when chickens got about three years old that’s what you did with them. Not these girls, at least not right now.

We’re doing things right or we’re very lucky with these girls. We have not had any signs of any ailments – mites, illness, injury. They are happy and healthy.

Kim has mentioned getting some meat birds and we have a friend that would do the butchering for us. I’m probably not going to be a part of that project. I’ll just deal with chicken when it arrives in the nicely wrapped package.

I’m reading up on ducks this Winter and I’m pretty sure we’re going to give that a try. We’ll start with just a few.

Kim and I were Monroe, NC for the NC/SC joint state meeting this past weekend. What a great time we had. First of all the weather was beautiful. Thank you very much.

Thank you to Jerry and Libby who picked us up at the airport, hosted us for the first evening, got us to the meeting on time and made sure we were well taken care of.

There were right around 700 people at this meeting. It was a nice facility, good food, good friends, good speakers, vendors – everything you need for a great meeting. It was so good to see several of our friends that we’ve missed. A great weekend.

Our flight home was on time, uneventful and short. We got the car and headed for a restaurant to get some supper before heading home. We almost made it to Medina County – literally feet from the sign – and the car died. Yes, right there on I71, cars wizzing by, cold outside and we weren’t going anywhere. We were safely off on the shoulder so not in any real danger. So call the tow truck, call a good friend to come and rescue us and finally about 9:00 p.m. (about three hours after we landed) we made it home safely. More stress.

Well, it turns out the car is pretty much a goner. Now we’ve been talking about getting a new vehicle for a couple of years. It looks like we’ll finally be making a decision.

As some of you know Bee Culture has had a rough few months – stress! You know because you’ve called or emailed and it has taken us a while to get back to you. I’m going to let you in on some of our reasons – not excuses – just life gettin’ in the way.

We had one of our folks fall on that ice I was talking about. We’ve had another out with some health issues and we’re learning a new subscription program and working on a new digital edition and also still improving and working on our new web page. When you only have five people in your department and you lose two of them it makes life exciting. Hopefully by the time you read this everyone will be back in place, we will have learned all the new stuff and caught up. We appreciate you being patient and hope that you will continue to enjoy Bee Culture magazine.

Happy Spring!