chickens D-I-Why Not homeMADE homestead

On a cold day

A very cold day here starts with a walk to the chicken coops, around 7:30AM. We close the coop doors when there is windchill or severe lows, so the chickens stay snug as fluffy bugs inside and I let them out in the morning. Next is a check of their waterers. Though the waterers sit on heaters, the water in the reservoirs can still freeze on very cold days. If there is ice building up in the drinking tray, we swap two sets of waterers in and out of the house over the course of the day to keep them thawed. Plenty of food gets dispensed to keep the chooks warm, then back to the house to do the same for the humans.

The OG chicken crew in their coop. Pedro, SooZee, and Lin. Each of them ~8-9 years old+.

We’re not dependent on our woodstove for either heat or cooking, though we often use it for both, and it’s indispensable when the power goes out. When we moved in here, the house had an oil heater. We got rid of that on day one (technically day two…), replacing it with an electric heat pump that has served us well. But we use the woodstove a lot through the winter. The heat pump keeps a nice baseline of “not cold”, and we use the woodstove to top things up to comfortably warm.

Today that first means clearing out the ash, and emptying the ash bucket. I like things here to get double or triple use, and that’s certainly true of the stove ash. From the stove it goes to a metal container outside, to ensure it is really and truly cold before being put to other uses (too many stories of friends and neighbours accidentally setting their outdoor ash storage on fire). Once it’s stone-cold cold, we use it to help clear ice on the driveway, sprinkle it around for traction, and mix it in to the chicken’s dustbaths to help combat parasites. For household use, I once used the ash to make a batch of lye, which I combined with lard to make soft dish soap. (The soap works beautifully and I hope to make more again sometime.)

Left in metal, fresh from the stove. Centre in metal, chilled outside. Right in plastic, fully cold and ready for use. Human well bundled and wearing ice grippers on her boots.

The ash cleared away, it’s time to get the fire going. Lots of extra shavings from the hand planes in the woodshop provide excellent tinder. The kettle and frying pan get popped on top of the woodstove, to start warming up straight away. While the fire gets going, I’ll get some water in reserve. Any time the weather is very X, there’s a decent chance we’ll lose power at some point. So a big jug is filled with drinking water and grey water tubs topped up with whatever’s left in the chicken waterers (for flushing), to be on the safe side.

Today’s breakfast will be buckwheat pancakes with maple breakfast sausages, plus a few delicious cups of tea. Then, fuelled up and rewarmed, we’ll embark on the rest of the day. And it seems like a rather perfect day to empty out and defrost the freezer. Since I think we’ll have *no trouble* keeping the contents cold if we pop them outside today… 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend folks!


Plate by my Uncle Richard. Thanks Uncle Rich! ♥️