The ladies are getting a bit chilly these days. After consulting with the internet and my favorite local chicken expert (is "Nice Boss the Part-Time Farmer" too long for a blog name?), I have decided against giving them a supplemental heat lamp for the Winter. If it gets sub-zero for a long stretch or they start showing ill effects I may reconsider, but for now I think it's better to get them acclimated. We get just enough icy power outages around here--which can apparently kill whole flocks in a single night if they've had heat up to then--that I'd rather have them used to the cold.
The chickens are still scurrying for bugs about as much as ever--although I've noticed that they definitely seek out the sunlight over shade. The ducks have started taking their naps with beaks tucked under wings, but if you look closely there is always at least one "guard duck" with her eyes open to sound the alert if necessary.
And the eggs are still coming along, despite the cold and dark. One thing that has really surprised me about our homegrown eggs is how durable the shells are. The other day I dropped one on our concrete counter and it didn't break. And this past weekend two survived a trip through our washing machine!
When Sweet Husband collects eggs in the morning, he sometimes puts them into a coat pocket until he's ready to take them inside and wash them. After noticing his coat was a little dirty, I tossed it into the washing machine Sunday morning without thinking to check the pockets first.
Later in the day I asked, "Did you get any eggs this morning?"
"Yeah, I think I left them in my coat pocket though."
Expecting a mess, he went downstairs to pull the coat out of the washer. The eggs had a few surface cracks--and were very, very clean--but the shells and the membranes that hold the gooey parts inside were still intact.
I don't know if I'd try the experiment a second time, but it's good to know we're making sturdy little eggs!