The Hens Enjoy Watermelon

Expected temperature today is 115,  keeping the hens hydrated is easy with watermelon. Sometimes you just have to be creative!


Chickens and the Extreme Heat, 110+

It’s tough trying to keep chickens cool in this heat, but I have a few tips I’d like to share. Chickens body temperatures are about 106 Fahrenheit and keep their temperature steady by converting energy that comes from feed into heat. In other words the less heat they need the less food they need to eat. However, the effect of reduced food consumption combined with excessive heat often causes a radical drop in egg production. In some cases they may quit laying altogether.
Heat stress is a serious matter, once birds are observed as lethargic, no clucking or preening, and just lay around is when death often follows.

Chickens do acclimate after awhile, in layers, there is scientific evidence that their temperature will stabilize a few degrees higher three to five days after the initial exposure to heat. Meaning, if a chicken goes through repeated heat exposure they will adapt and be able to survive at five degrees higher than before acclimation.

Chickens don’t have sweat glands so they can’t perspire, instead they pant like a dog. Dehydration or heat stress  is the number one cause of death, so cool clean water is vital to their survival. They do not like hot water so drag yourself out into ovenland armed with a garden hose and change the drinkers at least twice a day, or more! Use buckets, or large bowls, keep it simple so it’s not such a big ordeal.

As water evaporates it actually cools the air, so many buckets of water  scattered around the yard is extremely beneficial. Hose down the roof and any walls that might surround the enclosed area the birds are in, this will help cool their environment as the water evaporates.

Layers upon layers of chicken droppings hold heat in. Clean the yard up and keep the ground footing to a minimum of one inch.

Mist systems are used by some poultry keepers but my success rate is rather low with them. The birds don’t like them, plus the pooling of water beneath them creates humidity. Humidity in high temperatures is a deadly combination. Fans on the other hand are an excellent source of relief, either in the coop or yard – better yet, both.


More From the Northwoods / Vacation

by amy elizabeth

I just got back from the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin. I planned a short but lovely getaway to Minocqua and visited the surrounding small towns of Eagle River, Boulder Junction, St. Germain, and Land O Lakes.

Minocqua, WI
Lake Minocqua Public Pier, Downtown Minocqua

After spending the morning at the lake in Minocqua I hopped in the car and headed to St. Germain. Camp’s Grocery store is the place to go if you want the best jelly Bismarck on the planet. There’s not much in town, but there’s some good eatin’ and a little shop that sells great sweatshirts, my kind of town! All the important things in life all on one little road, that’s St. Germain!

Boulder Junction is my favorite place to visit the gift shops. The Outdoorsman Restaurant is not to be overlooked, the food is great, and the atmosphere is true Northwoods. The town is about two blocks long, at the main intersection a doe came out of the forest and walked across the street. I felt as though I was trespassing on her domain, pulled off the road and gave her right of way.

I went to an art show in Land O lakes on Saturday, if it wasn’t for the event I’m not sure I would have seen anybody in town at all. A few businesses were open, a couple of small town corner bars, and a restaurant which was closed at two in the afternoon. As I drove through town I actually saw a giant tractor come down the center of town and park at the local tavern…is that legal? lol

Handmade knits at the art show in Land O Lakes

Back to Reality…

I don’t get away from the ranch very often, it’s when I do that I realize just how confined I am with all the responsibilities. I waited a lifetime to have my own farm and ranch, but now that I have, it’s not an exaggeration to say it owns me. It’s an incredible ordeal to plan time away, individual feed requirements for livestock both large and small requires the competence of a knowledgeable ranch hand. Although it seems like horses are big strong tough creatures, in reality their digestive tract is so poorly designed the wrong feed choice can be a costly disaster. The chickens don’t need much fussing over, but eggs have to be picked everyday. When it’s 100+ in the shade cold water provided throughout the day is vital, so never mind, they need fussing over.    A small ranch is easily taken care without employing a ranch hand, but it’s a full time job. That means there’s still a house to clean, laundry, cooking, and oh yeah… another job that supports the luxury of having a ranch and farm way of life.

I must say I’m beginning to think about reclaiming the simple freedoms most people take for granted. Maybe I’m getting tired, or just getting tired of working so hard, or maybe I’m beginning to flirt with a new chapter in my life called retirement?

Really? Retirement? Hell yeah!

Lake Minocqua

Oh yeah… I almost forgot this little fella hanging out in the hotel parking lot.

Thirty Years Later…The Tilden in Eagle River, WI

While in Wisconsin I visited the resort and horse ranch where I worked as a hand thirty years ago. As expected there were many changes but its history was left untouched where it mattered most. A clearing through the woods hinted of the path to the old red barn still standing, though with little dignity. The cottages on the lake were all still there but only a few actually lived in.

Old tack shed and laundry on left, one of the cottages behind. Meta Lake
Overgrown path to the barn

A fella raking leaves behind the once upon a time office walked up and asked if I was looking for somebody, or in other words wondered why I was trespassing on private property. Once he approached me the grin on his face was ear to ear. It may have been 30 years but there were no more questions about why I was there, he knew. He was one of the hands from way back when, now retired and owned one of the cottages. We headed for the hint of a trail to the barnyard, just like we all did back then twenty times a day, except this time only to reminisce. We passed the ol’ fish house and shed, a common place to hide when you didn’t want to be found. It was one of those places on the ranch that you could look busy among the array of  useless treasures. Actually, it was a big junk pile of crap nobody knew what to do with, when it was picked clean of anything useful it was supposed to be burned. However, the ranch owner saved everything and there was no burning going on up there that I ever saw, only some drinking and smoking when nobody was watching. The owner of the ranch has been dead for maybe 20 years, his son Jack owns it now and the junk pile was reduced to a mound of organized clutter.

The old barn and shed…and organized cluttler

I found Jack living in cottage number ten, which was his mother’s favorite cabin, maybe because it was the only one that was winterized. She lived in that cottage until she died, I heard she was in her nineties! She was a wonderful lady, cowgirl, and without a doubt the boss of the outfit back when I was there.

It was a great visit, I was assured the no trespassing sign at the Tilden didn’t apply to me, I was still family and always would be no matter how much time passed.

The old barn is being torn down this summer, now I know why I was there, and I don’t believe for a minute it was by chance.

The Tilden’s history will never die, there are just to many whispering pines to carry it’s legend.
I’ll be back friend…