Thursday, January 15, 2015

Winter hens








Our hens are faring well so far in their first winter. We've had many cold days and nights, and a few minor snowfalls, usually overnight. The first time it snowed, they seemed wary; they moved with trepidation, stopping to peck at the snow. Now that they've experienced snow a few times, they seem totally unfazed by it. They still go to the patch where the grass is sparse, as do the wild birds, to look for seeds and bugs. They crisscross the patio, leaving tracks in the snow. The LB is their main caretaker, going outdoors first thing in the morning, after getting dressed but before his own breakfast. He feeds them, changes their water and collects eggs (we've gotten at least one egg per day all winter so far, without using a sunlamp yet). The LB has started cleaning out the coop all by himself too. He loves his hens. I have so enjoyed watching him grow with these responsibilities. My super kid.

When we went away, the boy next door came over, with a parent, to care for the hens. He's seven years old and was very eager to help. His family enjoyed the eggs. We stayed very connected to our hens on the trip, though. The Bear spent some time this fall working on two technological additions to our chicken-keeping life. The first is a "hen-cam," which he can access on his phone or laptop to keep an eye on the coop. He built a small "bot" with a camera, similar to the one he used to make a stop-action film of the monsoon clouds last summer. He placed the camera in our bedroom window, aimed at the coop. It was really fun to check in on them while we were away! We could see them eat and drink, go in and out of the coop to lay eggs, emerge in the morning and retire for the night. They're surprisingly busy! For such a small flock, this is a high-traffic henhouse.

The Bear built another helpful item this fall too: a computer-controlled door for the henhouse. The computer is set to recognize sunrise and sunset times each day, signaling an actuator to open or close the sliding inner door accordingly. The hens are always inside their coop by sunset, so this insures they get closed in safely for the rest of the night, and it lets them out in a timely way in the morning. It's so cool. It came in really handy while we were away, but we use it all the time right now. It's really convenient with the short days and long nights. When the days get longer, we'll go back to doing it the old-fashioned way. The Bear is very proud of his invention and you can read more about our Electric Henhouse, in much more technical terms than I could ever offer, on his blog, Ink of Park. Yep, he blogs too. He's been blogging much longer than I have and he's a good read, that one.

39 comments:

  1. Lovely to see how well your hens are doing, and how fantastic that you still have eggs in the middle of winter. Your husband is very clever, I love the hen house opening and closing device, brilliant. And well done to your Little Bear for looking after those hens all by himself, I am most impressed. CJ xx

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  2. How clever to be able to operate the hen house opening/closing a great invention.

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  3. Loved the hen update! What clever men you have (both your husband and your son). Can't wait to go look at your husband's blog!

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  4. I do love reading about your hens and now their high-tech hen house! It's looking so cold there.. no wonder they try to keep their feet off the ground!

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  5. They certainly seem to be very happy don't they! The bear is obviously a very clever chap with these electric things, amazing what he can do! xx

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  6. Definitely 21st century hens with all mod cons. I do love to hear about them as I'd love to keep hens myself one day.

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  7. Your hens look very happy - even in the snow! I love seeing the hen prints.

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  8. What a lovely update on your hens. They are looking wonderful. :) x

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  9. I love how it's obvious the hens love the LB. They gather around him like he's the Mama Hen! What a clever husband you have. Those are ingenious ideas. I'll have to check out his blog later.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  10. I didn't know your husband blogged!!! That is too awesome!! And hello...when we get our hens I would pay for a device like that!! So brilliant! And how outstanding that your son is such a part in their care! Happy day you! Nicole xo

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  11. Brilliant hens, and so well looked after! :) xxx

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  12. They look very happy in the snow. At the moment you're having more of the 'white stuff' than we have in the UK. Jx

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  13. Hey Jennifer,
    A coop door that opens and closes automatically is such a neat idea! He's a clever guy your Bear. A keeper for sure! And huge respect to the LB for taking on coop cleaning duties. My boys ran a mile from it, so big thumbs up from over the pond.
    Leanne xx

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  14. Beautiful hens and very clever husband :-) x

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  15. How cool is that for a hen house, an automated door! Wow. x

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  16. I love seeing your hens though it makes me miss ours all the more. Looking forward to getting a new brood of chicks in the Spring. I am excited to check out The Bear's blog and show it to my Engineer as he has been wanting to do a similar door system on our coop. Stay warm!

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  17. Hi Jennifer,
    Wow, some hi-tech hens!!! I love the hen-cam idea. We loved having hens at our old house but the deeds here don't allow us :) !! Your boy sounds very responsible, its great when they willing look after their pets, thankfully my son is very responsible with his pets too. Have a great week. Sharon x

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  18. An automatic door - that's amazing and just what we need too. I love the colour of your chucks' plumage against the snow; they look so healthy and beautiful. Enjoy your snowy days. x

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  19. Funny, I was wondering just the other day how your hens were doing in the winter. It seems they're doing very well! I love that your hubby has devised electronic bits for the henhouse. How cool is that? :o)

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  20. Love hearing about you're hens, sounds like they have all the mod cons in the henhouse,no wonder they all looks so wonderfully healthy.
    Clare xx

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  21. Your hens are some of the luckiest chickens on earth! My hens are on the naughty list. We haven't had an egg since August! Hubby even put up a light that went on for a few hours at dark.. still nothing. And they are young! I sure hope ours start laying again in Spring. Now to hop over to your husbands blog for a look see! ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  22. I love these pictures, they look so happy out in the snow. What a cool setup.

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  23. Those hens look very happy indeed!

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  24. Your hens look happy and healthy. Your LB is doing a good job looking after them.
    Your husband's inventions are amazing. Maybe he should get a patent for them.
    Have a lovely weekend! x

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  25. It is amazing your little bear is so responsible ! I have never met a kid that keeps on taking care of their pets (most of the time, after the first few weeks, mom or dad take over...). Plus, he doesn't only do the fun stuff like gathering the eggs, but also cleaning the henhouse !! You have an admirable son - I mean it !!
    And the big bear's invention - just great he made that himself !!! I also have such a door at my henhouse, not a luxury here with all the foxes running in the woods, but I had to buy it... (Not such a handy hubby I have... ;-)). And you cannot imagine how expensive those little electric doors are...

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  26. What a great hubbie automated doors wow. I think your hens are living in the lap of luxury. your LB is doing a great job , he is a credit to you and your hubby. Can I borrow him???

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  27. love seeing your girls out in the snow. and the automated door opener sounds fantastic x

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  28. The chickens look extra cute and photogenic against the snow. I'm amazed they're still laying, I thought it was a summer-only thing. It's great that your husband has built them such a super-duper coop, and even better that the LB is not only fulfilling but enjoying his responsibilities so. Have a lovely weekend. xx

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  29. Loved seeing your chickens in the snow and their cute footprints ☺

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  30. Your little hens look so cute, especially in the snow. I think it's wonderful that your son is taking such good care of them. So cute that your hubby created a "hen-cam!"

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  31. Jennifer, your Hens in the Snow pictures are so good, they would make great wall art. Have you thought of framing them? Your HB is one clever dude, making the electronic hen house. Fantastic to be able to watch them while away travelling, and even have them shut up for the night. His blog is very interesting; my HB also has his own blog, and recently started on Facebook as well.

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  32. It looks so cold where you are. I'm rather glad we don't have snow in winter where I live. Your hens are looking very well.
    Anne xx

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  33. Hello and greetings from North Finland! You have such a lovely blog here.
    Welcome to visit my blog too. It's about living and life here in Villa Kardemumma.
    Have a lovely saturday. I will go skateing with my son and then to SAUNA:) we have a lot of snow here!

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  34. There's just something about the combinations of chickens and snow - they make wonderful pictures! I can't wait to get some of our own - they'll be the most photographed fowl ever...

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  35. Just love the colours in these photos, I want to knit warm socks for the hens!
    Caz xx

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  36. That chicken-cams and automated door sound awesome! We have been talking about doing something similar at my parents' farm for years. I am popping over to your husband's blog right now to get the low down! x

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  37. They certainly don't look at all put out by the snow!

    Your mister and my mister would get on methinks ... he doesn't have much time to spare lately, but he is always hatching plans for what is known here as gadgetry and has made all sorts of stuff in the past.

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  38. Oh wow, an electronically controlled hen-house door! That would have come in useful in my chicken-keeping days. :-) Our hens didn't used to mind snow either and would scratch through it to find the grass and worms.

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  39. Your hens are so beautiful, Jennifer, and I love how your family is caring for them! I'm going to go check out your clever husband's blog : ) xx

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