So it looks like we’ve got three new full-time gulchers here at the Secret Lair. I’d name them, if I could tell them apart. And if I weren’t going to, you know, betray their confidence, murder them at the end of their usefulness, and stew the marrow from their very bones. But I’m sentimental, so let’s just call them “the chickens.”
Yes, Landlady has heartlessly abandoned them to my foul clutches. She says it’s because it’s time to field-test the experiment. Personally I think she just decided that a life of not waiting for the homeowner’s association to lower the boom on her chicken enterprise was a life more worth living. They can be a bit noisy.
But she is still planning to raise the chicks for the next, greatly expanded, phase. They’ll be a different, more cold-hearty breed.
The truth is, though, these three Rhode Island Red hens are doing just fine with the cold so far. It’s gotten into the teens a couple of times, and if the chickens are suffering they’re keeping it to themselves. There are a few things I have to do, though, since it looks like their stay in the “temporary” fenced area has been extended. I’ve got to go to the feed store and get them a better waterer. The current plastic one won’t survive many more freezings – plus the water keeps freezing, which is no good in itself. I’ve got to get some straw bales and make a windbreak, and I’ll sacrifice a blanket to cover the coop at night. That last thing might finally have an effect on their egg production, which so far has remained undiminished. If it does, maybe I’ll try a lamp on a timer.
There’s been no sign at all that their presence is luring predators any closer. Once in a while they’re even marginally useful – did you know chickens can claw the wood right out of a 2X12 to get to the termites? Because I didn’t know that. I should be more polite.
Either way, it’s cool. I haven’t bought an egg in two months.