(Almost) Winter Chicken Keeping

Winter officially starts on Wednesday--the shortest day of the year.  With the short, dark days, the hens have all but stopped laying.  Most days we get one egg, sometimes two, sometimes none.  I miss the eggs, but I miss the ladies more.  

Coming and going in the twilight, I don't see them much this time of year.  Due to family scheduling, Sweet Husband takes the morning shift feeding them.  They cluck at me disgruntledly in the dark as I grope around their coop for eggs in the evening.  If not for the weekends and the eggs, it would be like they weren't there.  

I blame it partly on our heated waterer.  When I was little and we kept goats their water was just in plain buckets.  Feeding and watering them was my responsibility--even in the Winter--and I had a little hatchet to break the ice in their water so they could drink.  

I don't remember minding, except on the occaision when I got too vigourous with the hatchet and the ice cold water splashed up onto my clothes.  Oh, it was so cold!

But there was some camaraderie to it.  They were my pals and the extra time it took to take care of them was...well, it was nice to have the excuse to linger.

I've made the choice not to put lights on my hens during the Winter to make them lay more eggs.  (I believe the break is good for them, and that they have enough to do staying warm.)  But it makes me sad that, particularly for this month or so of really short, dark days, it feels like I don't ever get to see them.