Like most weeks, this week was a week of excitement and worry, relief and disappointment.
chicken pecking and scratching for food on dirt ground

The bitter cold weather rolled in for the weekend, leaving me a bit paranoid that we’d head out to the coop one morning and find chickens frozen to their perches. The wind was brutal: bitter cold and straight-line from the north. I knew the animals could survive it, but I wanted them to be as comfy as possible. I lined the inside of the goat pen with foam insulation panels I cut to fit from one of those giant foam sheets, and I gave the chickens a foam insulation ceiling. Those two things were so simple and inexpensive to do, but I felt a huge sense of accomplishment from getting them done.

The insulation and extra feed kept them warm, and everyone survived the first night of temps in the single digits.

We’re so happy that the ladies are consistently laying, despite the cold weather and shorter days. They’re giving 5-6 eggs each day. Bean lays the prettiest baby-blue egg, and two of them lay pastel pink eggs! The yolks are rich and yellow and the whites are firm. We do have a few dozen for sale each week, so please contact me if you’re interested.
pretty colored eggs and mini pumpkin grown in iowa

Our one worry is Peepers. Peepers was our first layer and laid gorgeous sage-green eggs. She also seemed to be the leader of the pack, always being the first to escape confinement to head to the compost pile or the woods. About a week ago, she started acting strange. She laid an egg and wouldn’t come out of the nest box. We assumed she was broody and that the cold would help her snap out of it. We took that egg from her nest and she hasn’t laid, or left the nest box, since.

Research says she could still be broody, though it’s rare for a chicken to become broody this time of year. Hatching chicks in Iowa in December is a recipe for disaster (or for frozen chicken nuggets)! The kids are worried that she could be ill, but she’s eating well and alert. Today we’re going to throw some frozen peas into her nest box and see if that short-circuits the broody hormone and gets her back to normal. We’ll keep you posted!

No news on the goat front this week, thought S’more is scheduled for banding early next week. I would truly prefer castration to banding, but that’s not done here very often. The office that does the banding has come highly recommended and I’m trusting the experience of lots of fellow goat owners.

Thanks to the cold, the goats have grown thick, soft fur undercoats and a nice layer of fat. The babies look like adorable roly-poly balls of fluff. Hank and Coco’s coats are thicker, too,  but it’s much more noticeable in the babies. Look at them:

brown goat kid in his goat house on farm in iowa

 

As always, follow us on Insta and Facebook for more pictures and up-to-date info, or if you’re in the Cedar Rapids-Iowa City Corridor area, stop on in and warm up!

farm note broody hen bitter cold iowa farm

 

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