It is one thing us doing research about the weather from our perspective, but difficult (impossible) to tell the chooks that they are better off inside. We gave both groups a place to scratch and keep moving, there is dry sandy soil for all and lucerne to hunt through. The adults seem to be doing OK, but the chicks are just too young. We had one day of sunshine where they all lined up against the white painted wall and sunbathed (it does feel amazingly warm) but unfortunately they sat there waiting the next day for the sun which didn't appear and got cold. The temperature didn't get above -8 all day. One chick, especially, seemed to be feeling it, a strange creature who has characteristics of both male and female, as if it can't make up it's mind.
So we had to revert back to the heat lamp in their quarters They can come out for a run around occasionally but just the tiny heat from the bulb has made a difference. The water still freezes though, having to be replaced or broken several times a day. Any bowl left out will freeze solid over night, and the plates they have the warm mash on often freezes before they eat it all. However, we only have a few more days of these extreme (for us) temperatures according to the forecast (!) then it is sunny days and cool nights for weeks. Hmmm, seeing is believing.
The wild birds have eaten us out of house and home too. They have had all but one bag of walnuts, peanuts which have been washed to get rid of the salt, a load of seed and apples. Next they will have to have chicken food. If they don't like it, tough. They like it well enough from the chook feeders! They have turned their beaks up at the carefully crafted fat balls made with rendered down pork fat, dried fruit and seeds.
Dave spent one morning up in the hills with another ex-pat, a keen birdwatcher and photographer. Unfortunately the snow which shows any animals up also shows our intrepid snappers. There were plenty of tracks and no animals or birds to speak of. Still, it solved Dave's itchy feet for a day and he slept well that night!
So it is a waiting game now. athe temperature today is still below freezing as there is no sun, but things will change and spring will come. As soon as the snow goes we will be busy in the garden sowing peas, planting more onion sets and deciding on our final plan of beds. They are going to be a reasonable size so that they can be hoed within an hour. Hopefully if we do a bit every morning it will not be so daunting. And we want tall things between our well area and the gap in the neighbours' wall for privacy, so a permanent site for beans and sweet peas and we have already put in fifteen raspberry canes. Then there is sweetcorn which we will be growing for ourselves, with any extra going to the chickens.
We have ordered some Maran hatching eggs to put in the incubator as they are more of a dual purpose bird and lay dark brown eggs which will appeal to anyone wanting mixed colours. Although we love the Shumens and will continue with them, it seems they are not easy to sell as trios, and if people are not going to have a cockerel it seems pointless as they are not keeping the breed going. We will cull most of the boys at hatching. Well, I say we.............. At the moment we are only getting eggs from the two girls, Cagney and Lacey, who were the first to moult. Chubba is still breaking her's and the Shumen have given up for now, hopefully just because of the cold.
And to end, we have both been given a commission. Dave has another dog portrait to do (for someone in GB) and I was asked to make a personalised....................... birthday card! Well, a card is a card, even though the money has done a disappearing act!