Saturday, December 3, 2011

A “Season” of Surprises

You really have to live in Texas to understand the surprises that a “change in the weather” can bring.  This is the only place I have ever lived where you can have summer and winter in the same week (and sometimes even the same day).  Trying to stay on top of things can be a little difficult because it is easy to develop a false sense of security when the warm temperatures seem to last forever.
Thus it has been with the chicken coop.  The temperatures have been so mild (even at night) that I really have not given as much thought as I should have to winterizing the coop for the girls.  When you add the fact that this is our first real experience raising chickens, I often am amazed that the girls have even survived their ten months of living with us, but somehow they have.  Anyway, this colder season has kind of snuck up on me and now, even though the days are mild, the nights have been getting pretty chilly. 
It was time to break out the heat lamp!  Just one little problem…the girls were terrified of it.  Three nights in a row I would get the heat lamp going, only to come back later and find that the girls had retreated to the other side of the coop.  I tried to explain to them that it was for their own good and they would enjoy it, but they did not believe me.  In an effort to try to help the coop retain as much warmth as possible, I spent a little time yesterday tacking some heavy clear plastic outside of their windows to try to help keep the warm air in and the cool air out.  The girls were quite intrigued, pecking at the hammer whenever I put it down and eyeing the little tacks with a great deal of curiosity.  I could not have done it without them!
Wanting to give it one last shot, yesterday I turned the heat lamp on a little earlier in the evening than I had been doing and went into the house.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I returned to the coop later and saw this:

Those hens were basking in the warmth of the heat lamp like two teenaged girls sunning themselves on the beach!  Hooray!  (For some reason, the only time I have ever seen them get in their nesting boxes is when they want to lay an egg.  They seem to prefer hanging out on this ledge, even with a roosting bar nearby that Robert made for them from an old sawhorse.)
I had another surprise when I looked in the back yard today:

Do you see him?  Here’s a closer look:

A cute little parakeet, enjoying the feed that I had put out this morning for the neighborhood birds!  We had parakeets when the kids were younger, so I “speak” parakeet.  I stepped out onto the porch and called to him, hoping that I could charm him into coming to me.  Nope!  He took off and perched on a nearby bush:

Later he was back with the rest of the gang:

Knowing that domesticated parakeets are not outdoor birds, I will worry about him with the freezing weather that is to come.  Hopefully he will find a warm spot among the various nooks and crannies of buildings and such that we have in our yard.  In my perfect world, he could hang out in the coop, warm and snuggly with the girls!