Grit Blogs > Back to the Land

The Getting Ready for Winter

Why is it I got more projects completed today when the weather was crappy than on a nice sunny day. It was in the mid-fifties but we have a sustained wind of 40 with gusts higher. I got the chicken coop cleaned and ready for winter with a new pile of straw. I used my chicken tractors for most of the summer so to do selective breeding and to keep the birds out of my garden, but I don’t think the chickens would do well in the tractors during a South Dakota winter. It would be too harsh, so after I was done in the garden I let the chickens out. They do very well in the traditional coop during the winter. I tend to get cleaning the coop out on my to-do list twice a year. Being free range chickens they do not spend a great deal of time in the coop; mainly at night, in the morning before I let them out (I close it up each night), laying eggs and if the weather is bad (if they are smart enough to come in out of the weather). The coop is 13’ by 13’ old style. This morning I kept having to put off the job because I had hens that wanted in to lay eggs. I figured I had better let them do their business since I had to deliver eggs later that afternoon.  Later in the morning when I could finally get into the coop and started the grand process of shoveling out manure and straw, I still had one little white hen sneaking in. I told her that she could do her business and I would keep to mine. It must have worked since she hopped up into a nesting box and got to work. She did however keep a close eye on what I was doing and clucked a protest when I stopped working to take a phone call. Funny, the person who called never said a word about the noisy hen in the background. I hung a cabinet in the coop to store my heat lamps and such in. I am hoping it will save me from having to search for them next spring. I tossed in only 1 bale of straw but will add more each week. It will keep it from getting packed and all messy. I broke it open and left the scattering to the chickens. I have seen them scatter a large round bale that was still tied.  

When I wasn’t working on the chicken coop today, I was building the dog kennel. Someone had given me some kennel panels which wire was all broken and messed up. I had a roll of chain link fencing  that had been left on a rental property of mine that I used to replace the kennel panel wire. I now have a 12’ by 12’ dog kennel for free. We normally only have the dog locked up at night or when little kids are visiting. She is still under a year old and has a lot of puppy in her. We don’t want her to run off or knock a child over.  

My husband, Rick and I went to a hospital surplus auction last Saturday. Rick and I have always enjoyed auctions, but this one turned out to be a hoot. I picked up 6 bookcases (hello organized pantry and basement), 11 lamps (only needed 2 but had to get lot), a desk, misc tables, and an elevator door. I thought it was a stainless steel countertop, but hey it works. Rick used his surgical table (purchased at same auction) with lift hydraulics and my elevator door to make a butchering table that can be raised or lowered and is stainless steel.  I tried unsuccessfully to get a housekeeping cart (envisioned a portable potting bench and a crash cart (portable scrapbooking station. Hey we all have vices). Rick also grabbed a 7’ by 7’ commercial refrigerator/cooler (for hanging and storing meat we butcher), a commercial oven with stainless steel top and office chair. It was a very productive sunny Saturday afternoon.  

I am almost done with canning tomatoes. I think I only have about 21 qts left, which is good since I only have 11 qt jars left. Guess I had better wrestle some up since I have tomatoes, and new potatoes to can.  

The goats and calf are done with cleaning up the garden. I have to move them across the driveway to clean up the field corn field, but to do that I will need to get another electric fence up. Hopefully next week, it will get done. Projects, projects and more projects!! 

nebraska dave
10/20/2012 3:53:31 AM

Malisa, I think you got more done on a crappy weather day because you just had to stay moving not to get cold. :0) I found that to be true when I was hauling bagged yard waste to my Terra Nova Gardens. I didn't waster any time getting it loaded up into my truck so I could get back inside the truck where it was warm and the same for unloading it at the gardens. Today was the dump and spread around day. It was much warmer, much less wind, and no rain. In fact I had to peel off my jacket to not get over heated. I accomplished some garden bed cleanup as well. The raised beds inside the fenced in garden area have all be cleared of the dead plants that bit the dust when old man frost came visiting. When they dry out a bit, I will turn under the mulch and make them ready for the spring planting. I hope to get that finished up next week when the temperatures will soar up into the 70s for most likely the last time for this year. Have a great fall project day.