Today was lovely. Clear skies, no significant breeze, a balmy (relatively) 60F.
I spent today using the lovely weather to finish up the winterization of the rabbits and chicken coop.
Good thing, too.
Tuesday, at 8am, it is forecast to be 14F, wind chill of 0F.
I found this out about 2 or 3pm today, when I grumbled about having spent all day fussing with rabbits and chickens to myself. I considered stopping then and relaxing for a bit. For some reason, after checking the weather report, I decided it was in my best interest to continue the tasks.
The chicken coop now has a closing door, light sensor driven. NOT a cheap device, but neither were the almost sixty birds lost to the raccoons. So the chicken coop proper is now as secured as I can make it.
The human door to the coop, which is hardware cloth meshed onto a wood frame, has been covered with 4mm translucent plastic as light insulation and wind block.
The chicks were moved around in their cage and relocated to a place inside the coop where I could actually get around them. It’s not ideal, but nothing really is. I gave them the heated water bottle, but need to get the coop-cord cleaned out so I can actually get that plugged in.
I initially moved the remaining pullets and two potential keeper-cockerels into the run during the day, and intended to leave the rest of the cockerels in the grow out pen down at the house. They’re due to be butchered in a couple of weeks, anyway, or thereabouts. Re-running electric to the grow out pen to keep water from freezing didn’t appeal to me, so they’re all now in the main coop. I’ll just catch the cockerels the night before, and use the now empty two rabbit cages to house them inside the coop at that point. Or something like that. I’ll figure it out.
The two rabbit hutches have been covered with the same 4mm translucent plastic, doubled. It’s 8’4″ wide, so doubling it wasn’t hard. That leaves plenty of air movement underneath to keep ammonia from building up, while still shielding them from the wind.
I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it took a lot of time.
The last task completed — by lamplight — was wrapping the water barrel with the water heater blanket. I took advantage of the temperatures to fill it all the way up, then ensuring the water hose was allowed to drain out. My arms itch, because I didn’t realize the blanket I got was fluffy insulation topped by a very thin foil. And the roofing aluminum patching “tape” … doesn’t stick very well. So the blanket is WIRED on, with two long bits of fencing wire, all the way around to secure. I cut openings for the water tap and chicken nipples. Using a bit more plastic and silicone roofing sealant, I glued the raw edges of the insulation over, so stupid chickens don’t eat the “cotton candy.” Hopefully it will work … well enough. I hope.
The very last task that needs completed is putting up the chain link fencing wind block tarp thing. That won’t happen tonight, even though it would really be useful tomorrow. It requires too much coordination, and sufficient daylight. So it probably won’t happen until this next weekend.
On the one hand, I really want the two hopefully pregnant rabbits to kindle. On the other … well. It will be 14 F in just about a day and a half. Of course, kindling tonight would be far more ideal than tomorrow. If they kindle tonight, I can bring the babies in and keep them inside for the really brutal cold.
I do think one of them is getting ready. She spent a good bit of this late afternoon randomly jumping and twitching. This will be her first litter, if so. I gave both of the does extra hay, and the newbie has the solid-wood bottom nestbox to work with. Here’s to hoping it works out okay.