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chickens in the snow, ho ho ho

Harvey and Zion in the chicken run wearing snow suits

suited for the job

Even when it's super cold out, we still need to get out and take care of the chickens. All the more so! As I mentioned in passing earlier, this coldest and snowiest winter has added to the livestock workload here at the squibix farm. Aside from needing to thaw out the waterer daily (if not more often), I also need to do a fair amount of shoveling around the coop. See, I made a mistake when I built the thing, and made the door fit pretty tightly in its frame; and even worse, made it swing open—outwards, natch—right above ground level. That means that the four square feet of ground in front of our run is probably the only patch of visible dirt in all of Massachusetts! And keeping that dirt clear isn't easy.

In my defense, it's never been a problem before; somehow we managed without a problem the last three winters. And at least I built the thing strong! While I worried about the porch roof and the gutters and all, I didn't give a thought to the load of snow atop the henhouse and the covered run. And as the weeks passed that load went from this:

the snow-covered coop after the first blizzard of the winter

after one storm

To this:

the chicken coop covered with lots of snow

good thing I built it strong

... and we've had even more snow after that! After the last bout of blowy snow I went in to the run to shovel out some of the snow that had drifted in, in order to give the poor hens somewhere dry to walk, I suddenly noticed how ominously the two-by-fours holding up the roof were bowing. Oh yeah, there's four feet of snow up on top of this roof too!

It's mostly off now (though the piles of junk I put up there for "storage" in the fall kind of complicated the removal efforts). And a thaw yesterday let me chip away most of the ice buildup around the door. But warm weather giveth and warm weather taketh away: I was actually pretty happy to have a thick blanket of snow around the henhouse to provide some insulation, but after just a couple hours above freezing it could no longer stick to the plastic roof.

a thick layer of snow that slid halfway off the roof of the henhouse

I'm glad I wasn't under it when it went!

And even worse, after the one warmish day the temperature took another dive, and tonight is forecast to be one of the coldest of the already pretty cold winter. So after taking that picture above I shoveled some more snow up on the roof to cover the gap. But not enough to collapse the roof. It's a balancing act.

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