Winter is for the Birds….

Sunday I had a rare weekend-day-off-at-home and since the weather in Nashville has started to turn a tad bit chilly, Keith and I decided to tackle a project that we’ve known was coming: “winterize” the chicken coop.  While our chickens are all breeds that are fairly heat and cold hardy alike, we still want to make sure that our girls stay warm, healthy and cozy during the cold months ahead.  I’ve read a few articles on “winterizing” in various chicken magazines and books, and Keith found this excellent four-part series on The Garden Coop blog to peruse.

Part One: Clean Your Coop

Part Two: How to Help Your Chickens Help Themselves Stay Warm

Part Three: Winter Coop Gear

Part Four: Artificial Coop Heat

We knew that there were a few things we would need to do to get our girls the type of winter retreat they would need.  First of all, we needed to re-install the plexiglass windows in the henhouse wall.  We’d removed the “panes” of these windows during the summer when the temperatures were rising and we were afraid we’d end up with fried chicken if we didn’t provide some ventilation options.  That was a pretty simple process as all I had to do was get out our cordless drill and screw the plexiglass back into place.

I also did a “deep clean” and scooped out all the chicken poop on the ground (I typically do this about every 4 days anyway) and thoroughly scrubbed out both the water-er and the feeder.  The tomato plant that had been in the little garden space on the right hand side of the coop had about run it’s course, so I took the time to pull that out as well.  I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with that garden area now….the girls seems to like to dig up anything I plant so I’m thinking some sort of more permanent solution is in store….although the tomato plant sure thrived, so who knows.

The big ticket item that we wanted to take care of was adding some sort of outer wrapping to the coop to help provide insulation and also keep things nice and dry.  We’ve had some minor issues with rainwater splashing into the back half of the run and we didn’t want our feathered friends getting wet and cold…or worse…moldy and cold.  There are many ways to do this…I’ve seen everything from landscaping fabric and canvas to plexiglass suggested.  One guy even ordered custom-made tarps that he’ll be able to use every year.  We strongly considered the wrap-the-coop-in-plastic approach suggested here, but then after a trip to the Home Depot, decided to go for clear plastic sheets like we’d used on the roof.  It seemed like a durable way to effectively keep the water out and block chilly breezes, and all the while the girls can still enjoy the view.  Speaking of the view…we also added a mirror in the henhouse.  We’ve heard that chickens love checking themselves out so we’ll see if our girls enjoy it.

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Keith secures the new “siding” to the back of the run. Excited that it looks nice and hopefully will do a good job of keeping our ladies warm and dry!

We also put a thick layer of pine shavings down as bedding to provide insulation from the cold ground and a cozy place to curl up and will be adding a quilt over part of the hen house (there is a vented ceiling) for additional warmth.  They key is to keep it warm while still providing adequate ventilation.

Working hard. Pine shavings are messy business!

Working hard. Pine shavings are messy business!

Fancy New House

Fancy New House

We may have to make other tweaks along the way as the weather continues to get colder, for example, the waterer that we have is metal and we don’t want the girls to find a giant ice cube one morning in their water bucket.  But we’ll take those in stride and learn along the way.

The other big change we made was turning what used to be my herb/jalapeno planter box into an official dirt bath for the girls.  For a few weeks now they’ve been climbing in and making themselves at home.  First they killed one jalapeno plant.  Then the other one.  Then my Rosemary bit the dust.  So today I yanked out the remaining Thyme and moved the whole kit-and-caboodle into the coop so they can frolic about in it all they want.  I’ll leave you with some photos of the girls and their new digs to enjoy.  Aren’t they so large and lovely now?  It’s crazy to think that they were just little chicks not too long ago.

Image 6

Jane all cozy in the dirt bath herb garden.

Image 4

Secrets don’t make friends, but hens make secrets. Lousia (Left) and Sylvia (Right) chat it up during a good dirt bath.

photo 3

Snacktime! The girls chow down on some food I spilled during clean-up time. Such pretty girls.

the girls enjoying their redecorated home

the girls enjoying their redecorated home



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About bethanybordeaux

I fiddle around a bit.

6 responses to “Winter is for the Birds….”

  1. Anonymous says :

    Momma Daniel thoroughly enjoyed the read – that is YOUR read – I figured that if winterizing a chicken coop took FOUR installments, I’d read your condensed version. Yes, you have some pretty girls there, and I’m pretty sure they are the best-cared-for chickens in town. Keith looks very handy with that drill!

    • Lwrence Wuench says :

      Dear Family of Barbara,
      Greetings from Lawrence, a teacher of your Mother (&Uncle Bill) at Trinity Christian Day School in the Bronx.
      Your Mother and I correspond as needs and time-too-share arises.
      I grew up, -Age 0 to Age 8- on the A & A Chicken Place in Pine Lawn, MO.

      Now to the point: G.Pa & G.Ma Wuench, i.e. Annie & Arthur, hence the A & A belonged to the Chicken Farmers of America in the 1920s & 1930’s. A monthly magazine was read with avid attention. They taught me to read from that, the Bible and the Sears & Roebuck catalog.
      First, the Hen House was on skids and the “Runs” went out in front for 7 paces.The yard was a compass. So-o-oo this year the house and yard faced, North-to-South, the next year, South-to- North and then :E-W , W-E and back again. The oldest fallow past spot became the Strawberry Patch, complete with organic fertilizer.
      The Winterizing material was a red string like fabric sandwiched between layers of an opaque Isinglass. Today you go to Home Depot and buy a roll of Tyvack (Sp) . It keeps out the wind and moisture and breathes; in a sense letting out the internal moisture. I know, ’cause my kinfolk still use it and the Move- the- Coop and Yard, system.
      Maybe next year and look up in the farm journals the latest, like Lime water in the automatic waters (Ours were glass Mason jars on galvanizes bases)
      Blessings and Thanks to your Mom for leading us to each other,

      • bethanybordeaux says :

        Mr. Wuench –

        So cool! My grandmother has a few good chicken stories from childhood and early married life. I love hearing those over and over.

        Yes! I know lots of folk who rotate their coop to different parts of the yard to fertilize various garden plots. We don’t have the time or space to really get into gardening, but I use some of the chicken poo to mix in the soil of my potted plants and give some to friends for their compost piles.

        Thanks for reading!

        Blessings on you!

    • bethanybordeaux says :

      Yes! Keith is a handy one and our chickens are well loved. Haha

  2. tbnranch says :

    I read this and had to laugh because I just sat down with a cup of coffee after spending the day doing the same thing as I just read. lol Pretty birds!

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