I don’t care what the calendar says, Winter Is Here. Which means one of the first essential daily chores of the Compleat Desert Hermit is to get liquid water to his chickens.
And from now until sometime in late February or March, that’s going to be an issue needing address because the waterers absolutely will freeze overnight. Normally you’d just get a heating pad to keep the bottom of the waterer above freezing – but off-grid, electrical heaters are usually a no-no. Seriously, one of the most useful technological advances for off-grid electrical systems was the compact fluorescent lamp. Heat takes way too much juice – and particularly when it’s expected to run all night long.
So, as with most things, I fall back on redundancy.
Even if the air temperature never gets above freezing all day, the sun will heat up that south wall until it’s uncomfortably warm. Replace the frozen waterer with a spare from the powershed – which seldom goes far below freezing, though it may not be warm enough to thaw ice – and put the frozen one on the pad in front of the wall. When you come back in the afternoon, it’ll be well-thawed and ready to clean and store in the powershed for the next rotation.
You gotta understand and take advantage of the resources you have, because they may be completely different from the resources you grew up used to.
Maybe paint that part of the wall and the waterers black, too.
Kent beat me to it. Yes, at least paint the waterers flat black.
Here in Alaska I have given up on waterers like yours. I use a flat rubber pan and put warm water in it to start. When we get really cold weather (-30 or -40) I bring the tea kettle out a couple times a day. Right now with highs around zero i just change the water when I bring the rechargeable light out about 3:30 and dump the remaining water at 10:00 when I pick the light back up. With the rubber pan you can stomp and flex any ice out for the next day.
I wonder if there’s such a thing as a lamp oil heated waterer?
There probably is, Steve. But then I also suspect there are chicken house fires…
Heh heh, yeah, if I was selling them I would add in a disclaimer, chickens, straw and fire can lead to uncontrolled combustion. ;0)
But then you’d at least have roasted chicken for many dinners.
Joel, here’s something that might work and as an added bonus not burn the coop down.
There are solar powered chicken waterer heaters. Google can find them for you.
I used Hammer’s idea when I had chickens in Kansas. Rubber buckets and pans for feed and water. In the winter you take a bucket with warm water out in the morning. Pick up the frozen bucket and bring in to thaw for the next day.