Tag Archives: snow

Free chickens

Here they come.

The chickens get some time out almost every day now.  Very soon they will be finished with the greenhouse for the year.

They’re getting tetchy in there.  Starting to hate each other.  They come running to the door when I come, hoping I’ll prop it open.

Although eager to get out, they don’t stay out, unless it’s a sunny day.  There’s still snow on most of the ground, and if it’s grey, they find their way back into the greenhouse pretty quickly.

Guineas in the sun.  They find their way back inside too, when done exploring.

Nor’easter

A proper storm’s blowing up.  The kind where snow swirls in the door when you open it and the wind is biting.  Sleet is skittering on the steel roof and the white stuff is starting to accumulate.

The hens are conserving their energy.  Only two eggs today – two!  Today was a nice days, but obviously their inner barometers consider the future, and said to hold on to their egg energy.

We’re supposed to get 30-40cm (1ft), which will be cool in ways- it will be normal; feel like a proper Canadian winter.  The winter so far has been weird as heck, with yoyo-ing temperatures, and not very much snow.  It might be a snow day!  It’s fun to be snowed in.  It would be nice for the ground to get a blanket on it.

Not so cool – it’s bound to knock half the province out of power again and make it dangerous and miserable for anyone who can’t have a fun snow day.  Plus it will be mad drifted with the wind.

Time for a nap!

We got snow today, and are now properly snowed in, which is the best.

We were both out in it for awhile too, as more than 15cm fell in a few hours, from 8ish to lunchtime.  It was kind of fun to be out in, in a creeping along an un-plowed rural highway in a blowing whiteout through snow deep enough to rub the belly of the vehicle kind of way.  Things that are funnest once you’ve made it home safe and warm.  Then for extra fun the temperature suddenly rose to change all that snow to heavy snowball snow in the afternoon.

Interestingly, it seems there was snow all across Canada today, including on Vancouver Island– how singular!

Chicken Vay Cay Day!

On warm days, I let the chickens out  to play.  Whoohoo!

They resent their incarceration in the greenhouse in the winter.  They  glare balefully.  We are bored out of our tiny skulls!  They do not buy that it’s for their own good.  We’ve got survival skills, yo!

Which they do.  They make themselves at home all day in the forest, scratching.  They can take care of themselves outside, even doing some winter camping, but I prefer them to have more protection against the raptors that are hungrier in the winter.  So they must mostly stay in.

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This winter has been weird.  Three times now, all the snow has been swept away in a big rain and warm spell.  It’s not a good look.  But the hens are happy.  They get periodic outings.  Not like last winter, when the snowpack stayed a meter thick, and no one came out of the greenhouse for the entire season.

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The Mighty Vole Hunter

The snow is deep, but the voles should not feel relaxed.

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I don’t know if he hears them mousing around or smells them, but without warning, he will suddenly leap in the air off the path and come down, plunging his head into the snow and sometimes snuffle-plowing around for a while.

Depending on the surface of the snow, he may smack the crust with a paw to crack it, and then thrust his head in and burrow around.

If he’s lucky, he comes up masticating ostentatiously with disgusting crunching sounds, tails or feet hanging out the side of his mouth.  EWW!

If the vole’s lucky, he comes up only with a face full of snow.

He is really very good at hunting voles.  As good as a cat.  He gets one almost every day, sometimes two.   In the “grassy” wasteland adjoining the Walmart parking lot, of all places, he caught the vole of voles, a trophy the size of a squirrel!  Proving some things are flourishing around Walmart.

Sometimes the vole escapes.  Yesterday he flipped the tiniest of voles out of the snow next to the path.  Somehow, it escaped between his back legs, flopping around while he was looking under his front paws- Where’d it go?

Barely two inches long, it righted itself and darted to take refuge- under my boot, where I stood behind him.    I saw the tail slip in under my foot and was standing there thinking  Seriously?  Is it hiding?  Under my foot?  Yep.  I lifted my boot and it dashed away a second time, while Snowy snuffled around mystified.  It was right here.  I had it!

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What we want to know is: Does he keep his eyes open under the snow?

Dawn Snow Chicken

On the way to the greenhouse in the morning, to let the hens out of the coop, I was surprised to find one lone, chilly chicken outside already.

What the heck?  Obviously she roosted in the pine tree for the night, and it seems a rabbit came by as well.  It’s just strange that she chose to leave the greenhouse at all yesterday, let alone not return to the coop.

The greenhouse was  open a few hours in the afternoon, and other than a quick novelty excursion to eat some snow, now that there’s a snow pack the birds generally choose to stay in the warmer greenhouse all on their own.

Except for this one.

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She wasn’t sorry to stay under the tree, either, making no moves to go back to the greenhouse even after her sisters started up the food noises.  With the “help” of the dog, and cutting well cut up by the brambles around the tree, I caught her, stuck her in my coat, and repatriated her.

Time to feed the birds!

It snowed last night, so it’s time to put out a birdfeeder for winter (I’ve cast some seeds out before on the cold November days, but now I’ll maintain this food source so the birds may become dependent).

This means, what’s in the recycling right now I can make a feeder from?  Rather than walking all the way to the shop for the one I made last year.

It’s always fun to see how long it takes for the birds to find it.  Under an hour for a full banditry of chickadees to show up.  Then song sparrows and a purple finch, just like that.

A troupe of Eastern Grosbeaks comes through periodically, every 3-4 days in the winter.  They must be making a circuit of local food sources.

Look who I found crossing the path today

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Just trucking along.
Nothing but snow.
Nothing but snow.

I don’t know where s/he’s off to, but it’s still a world of snow out here.

I’m sad for all the animals; this weirdly long winter must be so hard on them.  The robins are in a high-profile crisis, and I’ve noticed the dwindling numbers and variety at my feeder, leaving the dauntless corps of constant chickadees and woodpeckers.  Even if the birds survive, will they be strong enough, and early enough, to lay eggs?  Will the young birds have time to grow up before the next winter sets in?

I will be watching for our robin who set two nests last year.  Maybe she was planning ahead for her species.

It’s never the greedy and careless or makers of bad laws that suffer first, it’s the innocent and delicate at the other end of the spectrum.

Peeping hens

I was lying on the floor the other, day, probably making a list, when all the chickens came up to the window and started looking in at me.  Pecking on the sill and canting their heads to look out of one beady eye then the other, they peered in the window, eye to eye with me.  I only got awful pictures through the glass, but this one caught one rooster shaking out his big old mane, as he’s wont to do.

Do everyone’s free range chickens run around all winter?I was leaving their coop closed some days, because I thought it was too cold, but it seems no matter how cold it is (-10C), they come rolling out of the henhouse at 8am and spend all day outside trucking around being chickens.  Sometimes they stand on one leg like storks and get pretty puffy, but they definitely like it outside, trolling the compost heap and looking in the front door.

Surely they’ll start spending their days indoors when the snow gets too deep, though.

Well ok then, winter.

Just like that, winter announces that it’s really here.  A nice photogenic change of colour scheme is one thing, a sudden smackdown is another.

I was doing errands in Nelson and it was snowing all day but it was plus one, so nothing accumulated, but when I was on the boat home, it started to stick with a vengeance.  When the ferry landed and the ramp was coming down, loaded with 3” of snow, I thought, uhoh.  Made it off the ramp ok, but started swimming on the unplowed road a few hundred meters further and had to go to 4wd just to get up the hill. The snow was coming so thick and fast it made that blizzard tunnel effect on the windshield you can hardly see through- the technical term for snow like that is puking.  It felt like a mission to the ski hill on a really good day.  I crept home in a line of other creeping cars, I suspect most of them also still on summers; gratefully, made it home without misadventure at 20kph, and now I’m parked until the snow thaws or I manifest snow tires.   Trees down everywhere, semi-trailer stuck across the road, and the power flickering but only out for a few minutes.  Unbelievable for November.  Just past mid-November, even.

There’s nothing like a good big snow to make you feel isolated and wintered in.  As long as it’s cozy at home and you need nothing from the outside world, then being stuck at home in the snow is like being snuggled under a big white blanket.

First Snow!

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I took this picture as soon as there was enough to stick, but it got far thicker later!

The first snow today is dramatic and picturesque.  Giant wet flakes emerging from rain and then thickening to make a lasting blanket.  The ground snow was slushy in places but boldly showed footprints and demanded toques and boots.

The school playground was crowded with big dirty rolled snowballs after recess.  A perfect, and decisive, first snow!