It is now mid November 2018. October was the wettest I can remember, with snow arriving mid month on the 17th for three days of storms, then melted away. I was enjoying the lovely fall leaves that were falling when suddenly winter arrived to stay with a big snow storm on November 10th this year. Lots of deep snow to wade through now.
I just came in from shoving my deck this morning where I then sprinkled bird seed and topped up the feeders. A red cardinal and other birds are sitting in a tree waiting for me to disappear, and a grey squirrel has come and gone many times this last week tucking away some seeds for a winter sleep. All the birds have quickly learned to come to my deck for a morning feast.
I put some seed on the deck flooring since many morning doves are only ground feeders. One did learn last winter to sit on the railing and eat from a bird feeder, but that is not common. The blue jays are quick to arrive, announcing loudly to the others ‘food is here’, then the juncos, the chickadees and other small birds arrive according to a pecking order no doubt. They flit back and forth several times a day to hide in the cedar hedges.
The first Monday in November began Hunting Season when the woods were full of hunters for a week wanting to shoot deer. The men of our usual gang came daily in the darkness for few hours in the woods, then out here for breakfast and men talk, and then back out again. One guy got teased a lot cause he shot at three deer and missed each time. But that same man took the time to finish wiring the coop for me (with my deep thanks!) No deer this year are hanging in the barn after the hunt.
There is a shooting range just up the road, where the sound of banging is something we have grown so used to we hardly notice. But I always fear for the younger geese going overhead during migration. Most older leaders have learned to avoid this area as they arrive from their long flight across Georgian Bay. I used to enjoy watching them landing and feeding in the grain field below the house.
I used to go out around 5 pm in the evenings to watch the different flocks arrive in the trees to rest for awhile, with the blackbirds very vocal as they chatter to each other during rest. The moment they go silent, I know the leader is about to take off and lead them either straight ahead to a big swamp for the night, or immediately turn right to head to Lake Huron and points south into the United States, where they overwinter. The birds return the same route in the spring, with almost always the blackbirds arriving first. Huge flocks of them. I always record when the hummingbirds leave in September and they were two days later this year than the year before. Another day I watched our eight barn swallows circle the barn and take off on their flight south.
At the chicken coop, the watererer was frozen the other day when I went out to gather eggs. So I had to rush to a farm storm to buy a plug-in heated type and it is working well.
I have the florescent lights on a timer and the girls are waking up to 12 hours days now ending about 4:30 pm because it is getting dark by 5 pm with the Daily Light Time change. I shut off one florescent tube for now leaving the pink one working, (because chickens respond well under red light for some unknown reason), and I put a cloth over the walkway to the nesting boxes to block the ceiling light. The birds were evidencing some stress. The ceiling light goes off about 20 minutes before total darkness, so the birds can see to go up on the roost.
Today I’ve added a home-made heater of a 100 watt light bulb turned on and hanging inside a metal stove pipe to produce a bit of heat. It is already – 9 C outside and going down to -12 C tonight, and that’s cold.
I sealed top and bottom of the pipe with aluminum foil to block the light so the birds can sleep, but will go out after dark to check things. Curiosity might lead a hen to fly up to that warm pipe hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the room. Although I don’t think she could stay there, she might do some damage to it or herself, especially if the pipe gets hot.
We lined the chicken coop with styrofoam sheets and covered those with pressboard, and things are usually cozy in their home for the ladies. I enjoy delivering eggs to my two customers, who take them all each week. A nice way to socialize for a few moments. At least my feed costs and bedding for the coop are covered by these sales. I never wanted to start a business but with 15 dozens eggs or 186 eggs in October, I have added to my interesting farm life.
Click on next link for a delightful look at a two-year old meeting the chickens–my granddaughter, Loreli. who was here for Thanksgiving with her parents (my daughter) and my son, Evan’s family.
Four more head of cattle with calves arrived from Manitoulin Island so we currently have 20 adult cows and 15 calves in the back field. Tom has put out four hay feeders, and most days the cows stand around them and munch away. The last calf was born last month, but had to be held inside the barn with her mother because the cow wouldn’t accept the calf as her own. They are fine now and out with the others. This is a special herd of late calvers, as all the others in herds of the rancher have been weaned and sold at the sales barn.
Earlier Diary Entries
July News – Farm Auctions & Memories of My Trip Overland to India