I’ve been waiting to do a post titled, “Weird Things I Think”, but after reviewing my complied notes on the subject, a fear of looking too weird crept into my mind for the very first time. Instead, I’ll interject these thoughts randomly, throughout the year, to spare you the awkwardness of having to “unfollow” my blog.
What do you think about while waiting in line at the grocery store? What thought pops into your head while you fill your tank with gas, or drive from one place to another? I think, “I hope my chickens are okay.” That’s not too weird. But it gets worse.
What do you think about on vacation? What thoughts do you have right before you set out on a fun hike or walk? Perhaps you’re going to see fireworks or eat out at your favorite Portland food cart. I think, “I really wish my chickens could come enjoy this.”
Yes. I actually thought that. I caught myself though, before I said it aloud. Instead I was able to go, “Woah…Matt…you’ll never believe what I just thought.” It’s happened a few times. Deduced down to its motives it’s obvious to see that I have a great deal of love for my chickens and it manifests itself in my wanting to spend time with them and care for them. All very innocent and not at all weird…right?
Anyway, I’m sure SO many of you are wondering, “Well Haley, how do you keep your hens cool on these very hot, hot days?” There have been more than a few 80 degree days this summer when I’m out back, looking at the ladies and wondering if they are miserable. And actually, keeping your chickens cool in summer can be more important than making sure they are warm in winter. Hens can hold and create heat pretty easily, but can’t escape their down coat when it suddenly sky-rockets to 85+ degrees here in Ptown. So here is what I’ve learned and anyone who loves their chickens even a fraction as much as I do, will find it interesting.
1. Water, water, and more water. Change it every day. I put cool water outside in the shade, which I change every afternoon, when it’s the hottest outside. They also have access to cool water in their run and there is a bowl in their coop. The sun comes up well before I get up and actually let them out. So I find them drinking in the morning, when the temp in their coop is already rising.
2. Provide shade. Even if this means you have to set up a tarp somewhere. Imagine if the only place you could go to get away from the heat was your overheated house? Imagine it had one small opening and a bunch of poop all over the ground that was heating up too. That’s the chicken coop people. We often open the large coop door and try to cool it off inside also, but it’s nothing compared to a nice shady spot outside for your hen.
3. Dust to bathe. If your ladies don’t already have a spot to take a dust bath, make one for them. Put some fine dry dirt in an old box and let them go to town. Spreading their feathers and kicking soft, cool dirt on their skin, can cool a chicken off real fast.
4. Mist. I take a hose and mist down the shaded ground around the yard (or whatever shade they have access to). They hate it when I bring the hose out, but right when it’s obvious I’m finished, they make their way over to the cool ground and usually park there until it’s evaporated, dust bathing and pecking around.
5. Provide cool treats. If you’ve got leftover watermelon or cantaloupe, give it to your chickens. They will freak. At first maybe not so much, but eventually they will eat it down until the rind is paper thin. I’ve chopped up frozen bananas, dished up cold plain yogurt, and given them berries that were no good to me anymore. When it’s really hot, just plain ice is a good way to keep things cool. Add cubes to their water (they’ll find it weird) and even throw crushed ice around for them to peck.
So there you have it. Now go forth and think weird thoughts.