It is now mid November 2018.   October was the wettest I can remember, with snow arriving mid month on the 17th for three days of storms, then melted away. I was enjoying the lovely fall leaves that were falling when suddenly winter arrived to stay with a big snow storm on November 10th this year. Lots of deep snow to wade through now.

I just came in from shoving my deck this morning where I then sprinkled bird seed and topped up the feeders. A red cardinal and other birds are sitting in a tree waiting for me to disappear, and a grey squirrel has come and gone many times this last week tucking away some seeds for a winter sleep. All the birds have quickly learned to come to my deck for a morning feast.

I put some seed on the deck flooring since many morning doves are only ground feeders. One did learn last winter to sit on the railing and eat from a bird feeder, but that is not common. The blue jays are quick to arrive, announcing loudly to the others ‘food is here’,  then the juncos, the chickadees and other small birds arrive according to a pecking order no doubt. They flit back and forth several times a day to hide in the cedar hedges.

The first Monday in November began Hunting Season  when the woods were full of hunters for a week wanting to shoot deer. The men of our usual gang came daily in the darkness for few hours in the woods, then out here for breakfast and men talk, and then back out again. One guy got teased a lot cause he shot at three deer and missed each time. But that same man took the time to finish wiring the coop for me (with my deep thanks!) No deer this year are hanging in the barn after the hunt.

(John Hafner photo)

There is a shooting range just up the road, where the sound of banging is something we have grown so used to we hardly notice. But I always fear for the younger geese going overhead during migration. Most older leaders have learned to avoid this area as they arrive from their long flight across Georgian Bay. I used to enjoy watching them landing and feeding in the grain field below the house.

Image result for photos of geese migration

I used to go out around 5 pm in the evenings to watch the different flocks arrive in the trees to rest for awhile, with the blackbirds very vocal as they chatter to each other during rest. The moment they go silent, I know the leader is about to take off and lead them either straight ahead to a big swamp for the night, or immediately turn right to head to Lake Huron and points south into the United States, where they overwinter. The birds return the same route in the spring, with almost always the blackbirds arriving first. Huge flocks of them.  I always record when the hummingbirds leave in September and they were two days later this year than the year before. Another day I watched our eight barn swallows circle the barn and take off on their flight south.

At the chicken coop, the watererer was frozen the other day when I went out to gather eggs. So I had to rush to a farm storm to buy a plug-in heated type and it is working well. I have the florescent lights on a timer and the girls are waking up to 12 hours days now ending at 4:30 pm because it is getting dark by 5pm with the  Daily Light Time change.  That extra time lets them see to fly up to the roost for the night.

We lined the coop with styrofoam sheets and covered those with pressboard, and things are cozy in their home for the ladies. I enjoy delivering eggs to my two customers, who take them all each week. A nice way to socialize for a few moments. At least my feed costs and bedding for the coop are covered by these sales. I never wanted to start a business but with 15 dozens eggs or 186  eggs in October, I have added to my interesting farm life.

Click on next link for a delightful look at a two-year old meeting the chickens–my granddaughter,  Loreli. who was here for Thanksgiving with her parents (my daughter) and my son, Evan’s family.

Four more head of cattle with calves arrived from Manitoulin Island  so we currently have 20 adult cows and 15 calves in the back field. Tom has put out four hay feeders, and most days the cows stand around them and munch away. The last calf was born last month, but had to be held inside the barn with her mother because the cow wouldn’t accept the calf as her own.  They are fine now and out with the others. This is a special herd of late calvers, as all the others in herds of the rancher have been weaned and sold at the sales barn.

Nov 18th   

Oh, Oh, trouble in the hen house. No, this is not about diseases and cure, but one of the hens has feathers missing from her chest,  with bare spots. Could this be moult in winter?  Surely not.   Upset me a lot at first since I thought maybe cannibalism had started, whereby chickens start pecking at one another. They can kill another doing this. It was already dark, and I had no where to put her, so shut things up and came into the house to do some serious research.

This could be sign of stress of a hen having too much light in then nesting box. She is probably hurting herself. I immediately recognized what I could do to fix that so got up in the middle of the night and started sewing.

This morning I was in the chicken coop early around 8 am to find all six eggs already laid (hens have been up since 4:30 am), and the injured hen seems fine, the damaged area on the hen’s chest has dried a lot. She seems perky and normal in behaviour and appearance and has obviously laid her egg.

I shut off the florescent lights to give them rest for a day or so to darken the pen a bit (light only from a big pane in the door),  to reduce the overall stress. I will turn it back on but only using the pink tube, instead of the common blue one,  since apparently red lights re soothing and this is the best I have. Not quite the same thing but I will watch for the reaction. (This is a set of lights from my gardening area,  as I love to start seeds in March).  I draped  the heavy cloth material I had prepared over the walkway in front of the nesting boxes to darken that area, and then opened the door to encourage them to go outside and enjoy the sunshine of a cloudy day. Did the girls ever enjoy walking back and forth in that cloth tunnel  for awhile. They are so curious. The chickens do want to go out side as they are very nervous of the deep snow. When I open the door, they no longer rush out. I am trying to stimulate them from boredom, which often causes stress and hen picking.

I also  try to dig down a bit with the snow shovel to expose some dirt for them as chickens need grit, and that bare ground seems to give them courage to step a bit outside for awhile. I don’t want their red wattle on top of their head to freeze, so will shut them back inside later today so a bit of warmth can buildup in the coop before nightfall. I have a thermometer in the coop that reads slightly above freezing, where it has hovered for the past week.

I’m now developing plans to build a small chicken hospital box for a corner high up against ceiling,  where I can put a hen who has been injured. And looking at all the homesteading websites online I can visit about raising chickens, having watch most of the U-tube videos on the subject.

I will also have to decide if I am going to add a heater in the coop when the temps really go plunging down in January (and I mean down anywhere, like minus -30 Celcius for example (0 C is 32F ). The heater  would at least hold the temps at just the freezing point,  but stop it dropping any lower.

Earlier  Diary Entries

September – Fall activities

August News – Sorrow and Joy

July News – Farm Auctions & Memories of My Trip Overland to India

June News – Introductions


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