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Winter is coming.

October 3, 2012

This isn’t a reference to the “Game of Thrones”, so if you clicked on this link by accident, keep on reading about our chickens. I assure you, it’s just as riveting. šŸ˜‰

I love this Indian summer we’re having, warm sunny days, cool nights… it hardly feels like winter is coming. But since it’s getting dark out around 7 instead of 10, and on some afternoons I find myself racing the light when I’m out there harvesting… and also feeling the end-of-season tiredness that sets in when my thoughts turn to, “is it really worth picking these last few tomatoes? They’re probably sick of peppers and eggplants by now, even though the plants will keep producing more until the first freeze”.

The pole beans have yellow leaves, the tomato leaves are thinning and have changed from a dark vibrant green to a tired limey color, and the squash and cucumber plants are mildewed and have all but given up. But most of all, I know that winter is coming because the chickens have all said, “NO MORE”.

Over the past week, I’ve only collected a handful of eggs compared to the 2 dozen-a-day production that has been normal all summer. Chickens don’t care if it’s still warm outside… their bodies respond to day length. Much like ours do, I learned, during my first couple of years in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not the rain and clouds that mess with our head chemistry and makes us tired, depressed and caffeine-addicted in the wintertime… it’s the lack of daylight. Something I also experienced when I lived in Alaska, but I had forgotten all about. I wasn’t farming back then. I wasn’t paying attention.

My first couple of years with chickens, I treated them much like I did myself…. with timed coop lighting and lots and lots of supplements. They laid eggs all winter long, and with no CSA to provide an outlet for our eggs, we wereĀ inundatedĀ all winter.

I used to think that so long as I can trick my brain into thinking it’s summer, I’d be happy and productive. But now I’ve come to realize that sleeping until the sun rises is better in so many ways, and it’s OK to not be as productive in the wintertime. It’s OK to rest, knit, watch movies, read books, make plans, drink tea, be quiet and calm. When spring rolls around again, I’ve got fresh energy to start another season.

I started to stress about having to be ‘ON’ all the time in the winter when my mind was in rest mode, and started thinking about the chickens in the same way. Every day in the summertime they produce this amazing thing, like clockwork, that is so full of protein and minerals. Every single day. That’s a lot of work for a chicken. They deserve a rest. We all do.

So no more supplemental lighting for our birds, and no more ‘happy light’ for me. We’ll all live longer that way! But sorry to say, there won’t be much in the way of eggs anymore for the season. You can still check the fridges, because the ducks seem to be on a different schedule (they’re young and don’t know better), I’ll keep stocking them with whatever eggs we get…

Meanwhile, some of our ladies are retiring… we have about 10 of them we’d love to re-home. They’re done producing eggs for the season, but will pick up again in the spring (maybe not an egg every day, but they’ll lay a few a week for years to come). If anyone is interested, they’re beautiful, fat and fluffy and want nothing more than to clear your winter yard of bugs and weed seeds. Contact me if you’re interested.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2012 7:05 pm

    Thanks for this Nadine, one of those ‘I needed to hear this today’ reads.

  2. nadinelew permalink*
    October 3, 2012 7:36 pm

    thanks chica. let’s sip some tea, eat cookies and knit together this winter.

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