It’s been a whirlwind of activity around here over the last few weeks. I’m very excited to continue discussing the Homestead Vision and Action plan that is paralleling the decisions I am making for my new homestead, but today I’d like to take some time just to catch up and let you know how things are going.
In preparation for our move, I have been reducing the size of my flock. We need to build a new coop on the West Virginia property, move the chickens over, and clean up their yard and coop so that I can sell my current home. Buyers probably won’t take kindly to chicken poop on the porch, so my chickens will have to move soon. However, because I am planning to expand the flock once we’ve moved, I am looking forward to replacing the chickens I am losing now with more chickens and more breeds – yes, chicken math! (Insert slightly crazed laughter here. 🙂 )
We had a rough patch a month ago or so where days of heavy rain were followed by hard freezes. My smaller coop, which I had hoped not to have to use this winter, was not well-ventilated or insulated and some of the cockerels living in that pen were frost-bitten. It has reinforced what I already knew: humidity + cold – (pocket of still air + ventilation) = frostbite. The experience has already informed my planning for the new (colder!) homestead. More on that later.
I don’t generally like using petroleum products, so I rubbed the cockerels’ combs with rendered lard instead of Neosporin or Vaseline. The fat did seem to help keep the combs moisturized although it was too late to prevent frostbite. I mixed in some lavender essential oil as an antibiotic. Everyone is healing up okay, and I have been watching for any sign of illness. The blackened tips are falling off, and hopefully they will be just that much more resilient next winter.
On the positive side, we’ve been getting many more eggs. It seems our egg production always steps up a notch after the first week of February. The day length must just hit a tipping point around that time at our latitude. I love having an abundance of fresh eggs in the house. It makes me feel very self-sufficient.
We took possession of our new home on Sunday, so we drove over to take a look. The amount of snow there is absolutely amazing: There is almost nothing on the ground until you get to about 3500 feet and then – wham! – you’re in a winter wonderland. Can you believe we actually have snowshoe hares on our property in West Virginia? Apparently they can live above 3300 feet there – and we are at 3800.
There’s a million other things underway as well. How about you? Anyone working on anything big at home? Planning any big changes for this year?