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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nighttime Magic

It's hard to convince people this time of the year that keeping chickens can be fun when the weather fluctuates from freezing cold to nose-biting frostbite, gentle snow to blizzard whiteouts, and bone-chilling wind to hurricane-force gales.  All in one day!  No one wants to be outside--for any reason--let alone take care of chickens.

In spite of the weather, there is a certain sense of magic whenever I head outside to the coop, especially late at night. I must admit I'm not eager to take time away from what I'm doing to pull on my heavy winter jacket, Sorel boots, ear muffs, neck scarf and ski gloves and tromp outside into the cold. But once I'm outside I often linger. The backyard has a different quality in the winter darkness.  The snow and ice luminously glisten in the pale light, making the snow look so fluffy, so precise, and so perfect it looks fake. The crunch and squeak as my boots cut through the path, however, quickly prove that it's real as I head out to tend to the chicks.
Chickens put themselves to bed when the sun goes down (something most parents wish their children could learn), but I add extra light during the winter months so they'll continue to lay eggs. I therefore head out around 9 pm to tuck them onto their roost and turn off the light (the light's on a switch, so there's no timer). They know the routine and are waiting for me. They've had their suppertime snack and are usually on the roost although flighty Ruby has a hard time settling down and keeps thinking I'm bringing her more treats at bedtime. But, eventually they snuggle down and I switch off their light then head back to the house. The short walk is quiet and peaceful. Yes, it's cold and yes it's hard to leave the warm house, but the stillness and gentle cooing of the chickens more than makes up for it.  It's often the best part of the day.

Bedtime snuggling right before lights out.


  1. I purchased your book "Chicken and Egg" at Crate and Barrel. Every aspect shines-writing photographs and recipes. I read it cover-to-cover.
    As a fellow Suburban Homesteader, and flock owner of 12 hens, I was drawn to your personal story of poultry ownership, and we are always looking for new egg recipes.
    Thank you for sharing your story and recipes.

  2. Lisa,
    Thank you so much for writing to me. Your comments mean so much! I love the fact that you also own chickens and can identify with their antics. Enjoy the recipes and keep in touch. I'd love to hear more about your chickens.



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