02 January 2012

Getting Ready for Winter

It seems that cold weather is upon us this week - I saw a low of 20 in the next couple of days, but I don't think it will get that low.  At any rate, I had some things to do to get ready for it.  The most obvious one was to bring in a few plants - I started by putting my citrus plants in the garage.  They seem to be the most susceptible to the cold and I've taken more of an interest in them, since learning more about fruit gardening.  I have a few random plants in pots that would be affected by the cold.  If they were in the ground, I wouldn't worry about them so much, but since they're in pots, they could be harmed more.  I had a few plants that have been fine during previous winters, but tonight could be a little extreme, so I erred on the side of caution and brought those in as well.  I'll probably keep them in there for a few days, until the temperature returns to normal.

I haven't paid much attention to the pond recently - I'm still deciding what to do with it - redesign it, get rid of it - I still needed to do a little bit for it.  I cleaned it out some and filled it up with water from my rain barrels.  This was also important - emptying the barrels would potentially keep them from freezing and cracking or splitting.  I got the waterfall pump running and the water flowing to ensure that the pond wouldn't freeze completely.  I know it sounds like I'm going to the extreme, but I don't want to take any chances.

My biggest concern in the chickens.  I have been reading about winterizing coops and most people agree that it's not good to shut them up without a lot of ventilation.  Their breath is very humid and their droppings are moist as well, not to mention full of noxious gases which need to be vented.  Shutting them up would be very detrimental to their health.  I've heard of people putting Vaseline on their combs and waddles, to keep them from getting frostbite, but that's not going to happen here - I couldn't catch all of them to do that before dark.  The best advice I found was to make sure they get a lot of corn in the afternoon, before they go to bed.  The extra grain will help them stay warm through the night.  The last thing I'll do is to bring in their water after they go to bed.  It will likely freeze out there and I'll have to dethaw it - I may as well just bring it in and save the trouble later.  I just have to remember to put it back in the coop in the morning.