With, or without the snow, winter is here, again. The cold temperatures have brought a harsh reality to my eyes; my chickens are tougher than I am. While they were not excited about the move to the combined living quarters, they are clearly less bothered by the cold than I was. While I was slow with stiff joints, they were youthful and were more than happy to escape and run around the yard this morning as they were being moved.
Another reality is high tunnels are awesome, but are limited in the winter. We placed a wood burning stove in our high tunnel and have begun using it this week. I feel the spirit of my pioneer ancestors as I go out during the night to light the stove and then get up to go kindle it early in the morning. See, we still have a few things growing and would like to see them continue and not die of exposure. While the lettuces just need not to freeze, my test bed of butternut squash needs more heat. They have small fruit already set, and just need to finish up, hopefully in time for Christmas. While I don’t expect them to be as large as summer grown squash, I think they will be tasty just the same. It is one of many experiments this year.
I have read that some folks keep their chickens in their high tunnels during the winter. I suppose this would do a couple of things, namely clean out the remaining garden remains and fertilize the soil. But I have to wonder if it would raise the temperatures inside at all. I would think that 12 living, breathing little bodies would produce some heat. Of course if I had 100 chickens it might work better, but then again, I might not have anything remaining in the high tunnel.
So, for now I guess I will keep on lighting the fires and laying out the row covers to nurse my plants through the cold. Of course there is an advantage… while winter is here, with ot without snow, it is always warmer in the high tunnel. 🙂