With winter, not much goes on outdoors here on the farm. The pullets have a usual routine of venturing out into the pen each day and back at night, they still won’t come when I shake the treat cup, so they can’t free range yet. They have to be able to follow me back to the pen when the dogs are out. There have been five days in the past couple of weeks where they remained cooped due to the very cold temperatures and for the past three days due to the winter storm and its coating of ice that has us encased. We were in a winter storm watch awaiting several inches of snow. It began as snow Saturday, getting a few inches then turned to a messy wintry mix overnight that melted most of the snow and left us with about a half inch of ice.
With the cold hanging on, the ice is still here. An attempt to check on the chicks on Sunday was a hazardous walk. Monday, I chipped the ice off the car and carefully made my way to the cleared paved roads to get to daughter’s house so she could go to work and I stayed with the “snow vacationing” kids. I left at dawn and returned near dark, so the chicks were left alone in the coop. This morning it was time to go deal with them, though it was a very cold mid 20’s. First order of business was to break up some of the spoiled hay bale outside their fence and get enough of it on the ice for them to venture out. Ice chipped off their ramp so they didn’t slide out into the cold.
They are busy exploring what seed or bugs they can find in the rotting hay while I tackled the inside of the coop to undo several days of confinement. Their food was low, the water dispenser nearly empty, and the straw a fouled matted mess. It is too cold to do a complete coop clean, but the old straw was forked out, new straw piled in, feed filled, and the water dispenser brought to the utility sink for a scrub down and refilling with warm water. If it gets above freezing, I will go out and fill the black tub seen in the above photo with warm water also. They went straight to it when I let them out, but I had dumped the ice disc out of it and not refilled it.
They have clean dry quarters and a few warmer days ahead.
We did drive to the Edith Bolling Wilson Museum in Wytheville on Friday to see the exhibit and the living quarters that they plan on restoring, and to look at a great wheel that I am trying to restore as she kept sheep on the White House Lawn during the war and the museum promotes sheep and wool in the display.
It is an intact, including spindle, old wheel that doesn’t line up quite right. I have reached out to restoration experts and to an Antique wheel group to try to resolve that situation. Later this week, I will return to put leathers and a drive band on it and see if I can make it spin wool. Prior to that though, I am going to Wilderness Road Regional Museum to give spinning lessons to a couple of adults who are interested.
Today though, I am working on kettle dying some Merino top using Wilton Icing Color, a food safe dye that with a vinegar bath will dye animal fiber. If I am successful with this batch, I will try more. If not, daughter will get several little pots of the concentrated color for her cake decorating.
This batch is cooling and I think the colors are softer than I wanted, so maybe more dye needs to be used in the next pot once this one has cooled.
The featured photo today is the ridge to the south, ice encrusted trees, the clouds lifting, and the sun trying to peek through. That was short living, it is again thick and gray, but nothing wet or frozen expected for a couple more days. Sunshine would be welcomed.