Monday, 5 January 2009

On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me...three frosted hens, two anxious owners and a black tardis in the chicken run.

It snowed today!!Yes REAL snow!!

Not a huge amount, admittedly, but it was proper real flakey stuff. And yes! it actually arrived at the appropriate time of year, i.e. not Easter, which is usually when snow makes an appearance round here. So I suppose if we actually have a proper winter now with proper frosts and winter weather, then we can all be totally complacent about global warming again? Or maybe we're headed for the next ice age? Personally, after experiencing the cold weather today, I think I'd rather take my chances with the global warming...

Anyway, this morning the kids did their best to make snowballs in the garden and get each other cold and wet. Mostly they just got cold, but the conservatory did get wet when a mis-timed snowball went straight through the open door and onto the floor. Jack wasn't too happy when he tried to eat the remains of the icy muddy slop; of course anything that falls on the floor is fair game for him and must be worth eating.

At around 10.30am we headed off to visit some nearby friends whose children were once home edded (now in school). Together with another family we hiked off to the woods and up to the natural sandpit at a local nature reserve.

Actually hike is a bit of a misleading word to apply to a long walk with 10 children aged 5-11years up a long muddy hill in the freezing cold. It was more of a zig-zag, stopping-starting, waiting-running ahead, noisy, stomping, stropping, sulking, stick-fighting, dog-chasing, molehill-squashing, leaf-examining, drain-poking, glove-losing, sleeve-tugging, ice-smashing, coat-unzipping, squabbling, trouser-rolling, piggy-backing, sort of epic journey. But we made it! And all children got home with eyes intact despite all that stick-waving ('you'll have someone's eye with that!').

Dd1 in action on a rope swing

Real snow!!! (well, sort of)

However, Jack the dog (and probably the kids too) are now absolutely shattered. And I must admit that I'm a tad tired too. Ok, perhaps the word I'm looking for is unfit.

As of last night, the chickens have an extra 'coop' in their run. In fact it looks more extra-terrestrial - a large domed black compost bin. Why? Well, yesterday morning 3 of the 4 chickens had a considerable patch of frost on their backs and I suspected that the Queen of the Chickens (i.e. the stroppy one) may have kicked them out of the coop. And I was right - yesterday evening I found 3 of the hens roosting on top of the coop. We had to improvise an immediate coop (it was about minus 4 I reckon last night and I didn't want my champion layers frozen solid) and put the empty compost bin in. It looked a little like the tardis (well if you squinted a bit and looked the wrong way through binoculars - it was dark you understand). We took out the little compost bin door and left it open so that any chickens that got kicked out of the 5-star hentel, could pile in to the 2-star Beak&Beak and keep each other cosy.

1st class and 3rd class accommodation in chicken town.

I don't think any of the hens slept in the compost bin tardis last night, but at least when we checked them this morning they weren't covered with frost.


Sam said...

I like your description of a hike. We have that kind of hike, with just 2 kids and no dog, lol.

Lol at the tardis :-)

Claire said...

Reading your post and knowing what I now know I only wish I'd not bought an Eglu a couple of years ago an used our spare compost bin instead :-) Could have saved a fortune!

Big mamma frog said...

Yes, even without the compost bin, our run and coop are a bit heath-robinson! Our current coop is constructed from a packing case that dh scrounged from work; the run is made from old security fencing panels that we got for free from a local company (if they get a bit bent or mangled they can't use them any more). And the paving slabs down one side (to make it fox-proof) were free from a skip that we saw as we drove the car past! Mind you, those Eglus do look cute!

Elaine said...

The compost bin idea is really good - would make a perfect home for any hen. The hens must be pretty healthy and sturdy to survive such a cold night. With frost on their backs by morning you'd think they wouldn't survive. I obviously mollycoddle mine with double layers of hay in their coop to keep the chill out!