On top of January’s once-in-10-years rainfall accumulation, we got more than ten mm of rain a day in February until the 8th when the sun finally shone. Our muddy valley is sopping, dripping wet. Keeping the barnyard crew comfortable (and thus healthy and thriving) is currently a very hard slog.
The farrier came last week and to our relief pronounced the equines’ feet to be in pretty good shape, better than most he’s seen recently. Lots of horses in our area are up to their fetlocks in mud and nowhere dry to stand. 😕
Luckily our hoofed creatures have a dry barn floor, as well as a high spot here and there in the paddocks to take refuge on. We’re hoping it will dry up enough that we can get the tractor in the paddocks to scrape the worst areas…but the rain keeps falling. Maybe later this week, fingers crossed.
We ALL enjoyed Saturday’s sunshine, and the sky (!) somehow a richer shade of blue than I remember. Washed clean I guess. Sunday morning we were back to steel-grey heavens, with a little sun in the afternoon.
Even my fully roofed chicken pens are soggy. I can’t count the number of mud-filled wheelbarrows I have sledged over squishy fields to dump on the poo pile. It’s sure a good workout!
I’ve learned some tricks since those first few winters, when I literally had streams running through my chicken pens. All summer long I throw heaps of veggie garden thinnings etc. in the pens, giving the birds their own private compost pile nirvana while building up the ground litter. By winter, this high ground deflects the surface water run-off around the pens instead of through them. When the chickens track in enough water that the ground gets muddy, (it has to rain a LOT for this to happen) I can use my trusty Restore pitchfork to pry up and remove the top couple of inches of mud throughout the whole pen, revealing fairly dry soil underneath. This year, I’ve already had to do this two or three times in each pen. I will have to stop soon though, the ground height is dropping, with actual puddles seeping up in a couple spots. Time to change strategy and start deploying pallets over the worst areas to keep my girls out of the muck.
The dust baths are stocked full of dry peat moss and wood ash from the fireplace. The chickens LOVE it, more so in this weather of course. The ladies’ public baths are crowded! Some birds need a bit more care, developing pendulous mud balls on their chests that need clipping out, or rinsing if it’s warm enough and they can run around to dry. I have never, in all my years keeping chickens, had the pendulous-mud ball issue before. It just goes to show that there’s always something new with chickens.
This weekend, I can feel spring just around the corner. The osoberry is beginning to flower, and the alder catkins are swelling. Soon they will be dropping everywhere, detonating on impact in little yelllow puffs of smoke, and my poor DH will be sniffling and closing windows.
Of course the winter-flowering hellebore and snowdrops have been blooming for a while now. I wonder if we will get another dump of snow before old man winter is finished with us? These last few years, snow in February has been a thing here. I guess we’ll find out soon enough!