Saturday, January 4, 2014

Winterizing the Chicken Coop: Part Two

I was so proud that I had managed to get the coop winterized on time this year.

I swallowed my pride when the eastern window coverings blew in since I forgot to reinforce them.

I re-evaluated what winterized meant when the latest weather forecast came in.

Last winter, Michigan had it pretty easy.  Our daytime temperatures generally stayed at or above 20 degrees F and the night-time temperatures only fell below 0F a handful of times.  I nailed coverings over the windows, put down extra straw in the coop and made sure the poultry water heater was working.

This winter has been a whole lot colder.  When Nico and I were in Petoskey, I carried my winter coat when the temperature was 30F and had a light wind because I kept getting too warm.  The weather forecast for the beginning of the school week involves high temperatures around 5F and wind-chill forecast at -20F.

I decided to finish a few projects to make the coop warmer before I had frozen chickens.  (I'm not quite as worried about the ducks.  According to U of Minnesota, ducks can overwinter up there with a board to get out of the wind and access to water.)  The chicken coop didn't have a door.  This has been nice since it adds more ventilation and lets the cats and dog patrol the area around the coop on all sides for predators and vermin.  I wanted to block off most of the doorway without preventing the cats/dog from getting inside.  I built a 3/4 door using some plywood that is open from the ground to about 18 inches.  This lets Domino squeeze under the door and gives the cats plenty of running room.  I used wedge hinges since they let me fold the door against the outside wall to leave open during warmer weather.  Grampa Eadie had rigged up a wooden block latch that still worked very well to keep the door closed from the outside.  For closing the door on the inside, I looped a rope around the diagonal brace of the door which can be tied to a bent nail on the door frame to keep the door shut while someone is inside.

My other project was fixing an ongoing problem.  The place where the front edge of the coop chicken wire met the wall/windows always had a gap that I could never get covered with feed bags. Last winter it didn't cause any problems, but this winter it was acting like a wind tunnel.  I brought out my handy hand pruner and chopped back the woody vine that was covering that side of the coop.  (It'll grow back in about 20 minutes after the temperatures get above freezing. )  With easy access to the side of the coop, I nailed two more feed bags over the offending areas.

With my projects done, I went inside the coop, pulled the door shut and waited for a few minutes.  It's a nice, snug coop.