sometime between midnight and seven on monday morning, our chickens unplugged their heat lamps. we have had below zero temperatures and 25 - 40 mph wind here for most of the past week. that night was not a good one for the chickens to be without their extra heat. the girls all did fine, but this guy, well, not so well.
he actually had ice on his legs when ben picked him up off the floor of the coop. we brought him inside and isaac held him by the fireplace for a while, then we set up this (very deep) cardboard box for him. he sat very still for most of monday. (you know when you get deeply chilled? and it takes a long time to warm up. and then you ache, a deep, bone-chilled ache. and then you feel like everything is on fire. and then, finally, finally, you start to feel a little like normal? pretty sure that's what jack was going through.) late in the day, he ate a little bit. he moved a little bit. he pooped.
signs of life, you know. eating and pooping.
on tuesday we filled the bottom of the box with mulch and maddie drew pictures on the walls for him and gave him a piece of firewood to perch on.
wednesday, jack's comb was swollen and purple. some of ben's friends thought it would probably fall off. but instead, the swelling has slowly subsided and his comb, though not brilliant red anymore, is still intact.
we decided to keep jack in the box until he either started fighting to get out of the box, or the weather warmed up a lot.
by wednesday evening jack was standing up much more often, he'd eaten quite a bit and been drinking (and pooping). but he had only made some very small chirping sorts of sounds, and seemed very content to stay in his box.
(when we are gone, or go to bed, i close the flaps on the box - it's about 3 feet deep. when we are around, the flaps are open.)
on thursday morning, at 7 am, jack crowed! and crowed. and crowed! around mid-day, he crowed quite a bit for us again.
he crowed again this morning. the wind-chill is still well below zero, though. and he is still content in the box.
tomorrow is supposed to be quite a bit warmer. straight temps in the 20's above zero! instead of hovering right around zero or plummeting to 20's below. the wind is also supposed to die down. so, jack will go back to his coop full of ladies (all 18 of them) tomorrow morning.
this is jack, shortly after we got him. he was so very little! he has definitely grown into his comb and his feet! and his tail has grown and is starting to have plumes. his comb won't ever look like this again, but he'll look tough. and now he's as big as, if not bigger than, that big black girl behind him.
so. i've learned that hens tuck their heads under their wings and huddle together when they sleep. roosters don't do the head tuck, and so are much more vulnerable to the cold. especially since they loose a lot of heat through their combs. we definitely need our heat lamps here in frigid january in minnesota. but - we don't keep our coop too warm, so when something happens to keep the heat lamps from working, the temperature change shouldn't be too drastic and kill our little flock.
we learn as we go! and so far, our chickens are healthy and happy.
i never thought i'd like chickens. and now, i think they're very cool. and i've even let our rooster live in our house for a week. i am a crazy chicken lady, i am.