Found a frozen egg in the nest last night. How did I know it was frozen? Because the contents had expanded and the shell had a beautiful thin crack running from end to end. The other eggs were fine—maybe they had been laid later in the day and hadn\’t had time to freeze.
My hens are Buff Orpingtons, big bosomy blondes bred to withstand cold weather. They have a heated dog dish for their water, and plenty of laying mash and leftovers. They prefer to spend their days in the goat room, scratching around in the hay and managing to find treats in there. Probably they like the goats\’ company, too.
The goats don\’t mind the cold either. They\’re wearing their fluffy winter coats—the babies look like little bears—and they go outside on the snow and ice. They hate the rain and mud, though. They, too, have a heated water bucket, and in the winter I add cider vinegar to their water.
The wooden shed that houses the goats and chickens is not insulated. At night I do lock everyone in, but it\’s more to keep the coyotes out than the cold. Both goats and chickens have a nice thick bed of hay, and the manure which drops to the bottom composts and helps to keep things warm.
In the evening, when I\’m reading by the wood stove and the dogs are sprawled on the rugs, I like to think of my goats and chickens all snug in their shed for the night.