Wednesday, February 15, 2012


No, I'm not talking about people who go from Canada to the southern US for several months each year, although they are snowbirds of a different sort.  Today, I'm talking about chickens.  Chickens in the snow.  We had quite a bit of snow fall in the area recently - probably about 12 inches or so.
The chickens have not been impressed.  Actually, they have all stayed in the coop, where I fed them for the past 4 days, peering out of the door from time to time with a glassy eye, and retreating to the safety of the wooden roosts.

Today, it was a little warmer - above freezing even!  I had to go out into the fenced area where the chickens generally roam in order to put some wood into the basement for the wood furnace.  The flock watched me as I traipsed through the coop, decked out in my insulated coveralls and heavy gloves.  I think they thought I was quite mad to be going out in that sea of white.
I have a feeling that chickens are very uneasy about stepping into the snow because they can't judge its depth and they could just fall down into it and not be able to get out.  I trudged around the yard a bit making little paths with my feet, so that they could putter around out there in the sun.  They refused to follow.

I decided it was high time for them all to get out into the sun so I went back into the coop and shooed everybody outside.  This caused a cacophony of aggrieved cackling and flapping, but out they went.  Some of them went onto the steps quite timidly, but others burst out the coop door in a cannonball-like effort of feathers and feet.  I hadn't quite anticipated that level of enthusiasm, nor had I anticipated that several of them would fly directly up into the tree, presumably to avoid the snow.
Others flew directly to the wood pile, to take a front row seat in observing the action.
Three of the roosters clustered together on a branch that I felt sure would break, but it didn't.
And two crazy, flustered hens actually flew over the fence and out into the snow on the other side, where they sat looking surprised and a little distressed.  It was time for a chicken recovery operation.

The first of the candidates was one of my lovely golden-laced Polish hens, named Thistle.  She was in snow that was several inches deep and as I approached, she began to look somewhat alarmed, but was unable to escape her snowy situation.
I quickly picked her up and she didn't seem to mind being carried back to the yard.
I popped her over the fence, thinking she would muddle her way through the snow to join her fellow hens.

I set off after my second escapee - Almondine - a cross breed bantam hen.  She was hiding behind a tree, keeping a wary eye on my approach.
"Oh bother," I could nearly hear her say, "she's seen me!"
 She hastily beat a retreat, not wanting to be picked up and carried back to the flock.
Chickens are funny to watch when they run under any circumstances.  Chickens running in the snow are simply hilarious.  They are like cartoon characters who are nearly falling over at every step.  Still, she got away from me because I had to be mindful where I was stepping, lest I end up in my own snowy cocoon!
 She left behind trails of wing marks in the snow, which I thought were quite beautiful.
Anyway, I eventually caught up to her and corralled her against the fence, where I nimbly (?) grabbed her and carried her to the fence, whereupon she flew out of my grasp and rejoined her flock.
By this time, I thought that Thistle would have done the same, but upon investigation, she was still sitting on the correct side of the fence, in deep snow, looking pathetic.  Another rescue...
Once she was back with the others, I turned my attention to those in the trees.
The tree chickens had left evidence of their ability to get out of the trees and find their way back to the coop.  Here I present the classic signs of a "chicken landing strip."  You can see the initial landing location with the deeper footprints and then the wing marks from the move out of those deep foot holes so that the path back to the coop was accessible.
Buttercup insisted on showing me her clean bloomers.
I spent a couple of hours putting in firewood, after having pried apart the frozen pile of cut logs using a crowbar and ice chopper, under observation all the time of course.
But, at the end of my work, I was rewarded with two "real" hen fruits, nestled among the wooden eggs my Dad made for the nesting boxes.
I do hope the chickens enjoyed their time outside despite the snow.  At least they had some entertainment while they basked in the sun!


Marigold said...

The chickens learned from the goats. Never, Never, NEVER set foot out in the white stuff. Just don't do it.

Lin said...

I don't think I've ever seen a chicken perched in a tree! That's so silly looking.

So....are those snow angels--chicken style?? :)

Pricilla said...

Stupid birds. Ours take a couple of days to come out after it snows.

Nancy K. said...

Wonderful photos!

KathyB. said...

I love this post! Chickens are not only great egg producers, they are great entertainers< and I love to sit & watch my chickens. The prints in the snow are beautiful chicken scratch art.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Our chickens don't seem to mind snow at all. Of course we don't get as much, as deep and the sheep and horses make paths for them :-). Love the landing strip photo!

Flartus said...

Silly, funny chickens! They're so stupid and endearing, entertaining and useful. And some of yours are gorgeous. Love that glossy black hen on the woodpile.

It's good to hear your news, and know you've got wood to burn and strength to lug it. :)

Millie said...

Birds really are very silly.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Hmm. That one with the poof would make a superb Living Muff!

Perhaps we could come to some sort of accord. I'd have dry hands and she'd have dry feet!

Work together, that's what I always say.

(That pic of chcikens in the tree is AWESOME!)

Sampson and Lorrie said...

What beautiful chickens! I have always wanted chickens. However, I never seem to live in a place that I can have them. Well, maybe someday.