We had our first “storm” of the season a couple nights ago involving some chilling overnight temperatures, hard rain and strong winds whipping trees around. The next morning was cold and still, but branches and such were left along sidewalks as a memory of the night before. The first thing I think of when the forecast talks of stormy nights are my little flocks of chickens in the backyard.

My standard hens, Maude, Florence and Pearl, have seen some cold winters. I try to fatten them up as we move into winter so they have a little cushion to keep them warm. They are far from being overweight, but they get extra scratch and help munch up the vegetables I’ve pulled out of the garden. Being a little fat and sassy in the winter never hurt anyone. Pearl, my old Americauna, looks positively fierce in this picture, so she wins the sass award. She’s starting to look like a bearded lady…

It’s been about two weeks since they decided to stop laying eggs for the winter. You can trick their system with artificial light to keep them laying through the winter. I like to give them a few months off from all their hard work though. They’ll still lay the same number of eggs in their lifetime – they will just lay longer.

Florence seems to still be finishing up her molting, which is their process of losing feathers to make room for a new fluffy winter jacket. She is the Rhode Island Red in the picture above and you can see her bald spots that will soon grow back in. Feathers line the floor of the coop and poor Florence looks a little scrawny and ragged.

I still have the little bantam chickens because I was simply avoiding having to say good bye to them. They are so damn cute and I really have enjoyed getting to know them. I finally bit the bullet today though and put up a post on Craig’s List, which you can find here. If you know of anyone wanting to add to their flock or start a new one in the Eugene area, please pass this along.

I’m putting in extra helpings of straw in the coops when I do my weekly cleaning. Otherwise they all seem fine with the colder weather. They huddle together and fluff up those feathers so they have room to hold the heat underneath. We are all getting a little extra rest during these short days and running out to enjoy the few hours of sunlight we get.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson