Many people enjoy cold chicken. Chickens, however, do not appreciate the cold. At all. And on this night, the third frigid eve in our normally mild Florida winter, as I sit in my temperature-controlled home with warm kittens double-parked on my lap, of course I worry about the hens out there in The Elements.
Now, I am quite aware that 40 degrees isn’t “cold” this time of year in most parts of our country. My brother, who calls Michigan home–and where I grew up–is heading into an evening of temps in the teens. THAT’s cold. The kind of cold where you hold your breath upon entering your car, for fear of fogging up the windshield. The kind of cold that crunches little icicles of barely visible precipitation beneath your duck boots as you shuffle down the sidewalk in three pairs of rag socks, your body tensed up like a popsicle stick in your never-warm-enough winter coat. Believe me, I remember the cold.
But somehow, my tolerance of cold has altered in the last 15 years I’ve been south of the Mason-Dixon line. 60 is cold (especially on a motorcycle.) and 40 is definitely cold here in Florida, especially at 7:00 in the morning when you have to bundle up and step outside to feed chickens.
How do I know my hens don’t like the cold? Well, I don’t really know this. I am sure they’re quite fine with it, and that the lack of eggs for two days is just a quirk. And the too-knowing glares of animosity shooting out of Mabel’s eyes as she steps out of the coop in the morning, hopping along the freezing ground–yes, that should be normal, right? And the three hens’ mad dash for the sun-drenched dirt in the garden at the very moment I open their enclosure is nuthin’ but a thang? Of course; hens don’t care about the cold. Har. Right. They hate it.
Thanks to my Dad, my girls not only enjoy a posh coop that the rest of the world’s chickens wouldn’t dare shake a tail feather at, but they also have custom shutters for all of their windows. And when I heard the forecast for the week, I made a beeline for the storage bin and retrieved those suckers faster than, well, a chicken diving for corn scratch.
Shutters affixed, deep tufts of hay lining the floor of the coop, and 30-second microwaved spaghetti and rice in the morning–I’d say thise girls have the best possible treatment during our Florida winter.
Footnote: got my first egg out of Goldie since she molted several weeks ago! Still waiting on Marguerite, who’s holding out for who-knows-what since starting her molt three months ago. And Mabel? I think she skipped molting altogether!