Season of buckets... buckets in the bathroom, buckets in the kitchen, buckets on the porch... a bucket in the big henhouse to "tip" the dirty water out of the big waterer and throw it out, so we don't have to carry the big waterer back and forth. The orange Homer buckets are for water for the outside animals. We wised up this year and bring the buckets in so nothing freezes. Last winter in the harsh weeks after Christmas, we went out to the henhouse one morning and found a mouse frozen in one of the buckets, he got in and couldn't get out. I have never forgotten it, and never leave a bucket standing upright out there if I can help it now.
Oddly enough, we are seeing VERY few mice in the henhouse, nothing like last year. We have seen NO rats, even stranger, nor have I seen their sign in the snow. Keith thinks the many, many black snakes have cut down on the population considerably.
The starlings have also not invaded us so far this winter. You can see in our pictures that they have painted the walls of the henhouse with their nasty poop... and when they invaded, it was all. over. everything. UGH.
You can see how they stained the walls from their roosting in the rafters amongst the chickens, and how they pooped all over my birds... check out Rambo's comb and face. (last year) It's only in the last three days that they have invaded our wild bird feeding area. We don't blame them, in a way, because they are as hungry as the little birds, and because they have not found the entrances to the henhouse (in the eaves, and the open pophole), but we really don't want them carrying disease and disgusting poop all over everything.
We have been talking and planning this summer's garden these last few cold nights, and have come to a decision about our rooster population. After six summers on the farm, we are going to butcher some of our roosters and the older hens. Keith has cleaned pheasant and quail in his youth, as his family were avid hunters, but we have never eaten our own birds. Philosophically, we are trying to be more self-sufficient, and raise more of our own food, whether it be vegetables, fruit or meat. I have had an attachment to the birds ever since I began raising them 12 years or so ago, and I am finally realizing we cannot go on keeping roosters forever. We want to have more hens, and provide more eggs for family and our local food kitchen, and we need roost space for hens. We also are planning a new project, one about which we are very excited, and about which I'll write this weekend.
It's late on Friday night, and the pugs snore gently at my feet, and it's time for this hobby farmer to lift them into bed and go to sleep for the one night a week we are able to sleep late in the morning. I hope everyone has a peaceful weekend!