January 15, 2011

Am I Spoiling My Critters?

Monday's snow has been slow to melt. By our standards anyway. Every day since, the afternoon high has managed to get above the freezing mark, but daily melting has been relatively insignificant.

About day three, I started to feel badly for my chickens. They remained under a self-imposed coop quarantine, though from time to time one would poke her head out the chicken door to see if conditions had turned more favorable for a trip outside. The chicken yard is on the north side of the coop so it gets the least amount of sun and is slowest to melt.

That's when I came up with a brilliant (or at least I thought so) way to let the chickens out, without the goats escaping.

There is a Dutch door between the goat side of the shed and the feed room, the coop being on the other side of that. I propped open the bottom of the door with a piece of firewood, but tied it with a piece of baling twine so it couldn't be opened any more than that. By leaving the coop door open (but closing the outside door, the chickens were free to wander out of the coop and venture into the goat stalls.

Everyone seemed pretty happy about that, especially since it meant getting some fresh air and sunshine.

And for the goats? Well, they had no more intentions of going out in the snow than the chickens did. So while other folks were out building snowmen, I shoveled a goat path...

It loops around back to the shed, and goes through the back gate a ways. Jasmine and Surprise were quick to follow me, but Crybaby stayed back at the barn and hollered her lungs out. When no one seemed to notice she soon followed along too. Once out, they were quick to find a few blades of uncovered green grass to eat.

The next day, the chickens made their way out onto the path as well...

As cold as it's been, I really enjoy working outside in the snow. It's funny, but snow at 25 F doesn't seem as cold as no snow at 35 F. I wonder why is that?


  1. You are a wonderful Farmer! Your animals are so blessed to have you! I've been cooking butternut squash and oatmeal for my hens these last few chilly days...it just seems to be the right thing to do.

  2. Clever! And a whole lot of shovelling.

    Very lucky chickens / goats to be cared for by such a caring owner :-)

  3. Aren't goats just plain silly. I usually just put some little piles of hay out and about and make them, make their own trails. Of course, mine only have a calf hutch & Igloo and it's tight quarters. They want to eat or drink, they have to come out. They do have heavy coats though and there is always the incentive of hanging with the horses, which they love to do. The horses, not so much sometimes. ;)

  4. That must have made you laugh watching them along that path. You've got me smiling!

  5. is that the new form of exercise? shovelling snow for the goats:)) it looks funny, how they all walk on that path - just not to get their feet wet! they'll get used to being spoiled!

  6. You aren't spoiling them, you're meeting their needs. That's what you're supposed to do. Who needs a bunch of miserable animals? I spoil my hens regularly and in turn they spoil me with their eggs.

  7. Lynda, other than scraps I hadn't thought about cooking anything for my chickens. Good idea though.

    Dani, yes it was a lot of shoveling and I confess to having to take a few breaks. Still, I'm so tired of being cooped up in the house with nothing truly physical to do!

    Theresa, Crybaby is the only one of mine who has a down coat. I've watched the two Nubians shiver as they ate their grain ration and actually considered making them some winter jackets!

    Tami, the funny thing was that I didn't even know they were interested until the first time I stopped to catch my breath. Baby had been hollering, so I was surprised to find Jasmine and Surprise right on my tail!

    Bettina, it was great exercise. The goats have started to wander short distances in the snow, in hopes of finding a random, tasty leaf or two. The chickens are still very much "no way" about it.

    Heather, that's the way to look at it! And you're right, I do feel spoiled have all those beautiful, healthy, tasty eggs. A very fair arrangement I'd say, when I look at it like that.

  8. That really made me laugh. I love that everyone stays right in the path. Who gets the rightaway? Do the chickens yield to the goats?

  9. I would have done the same thing!
    It's healthier than them filling up their living space with manure and I am sure they appreciated it. They get cabin fever too!
    LOL at Crybaby

  10. I like the path.:) Spoiled critters are happy critters and bring good karma to one's homestead.

  11. I think it's great. Occasionally I will shovel a path for my dog! But he romps in the snow anyway. :)


  12. Spoiling? Maybe but sometimes they just need a little extra care. I've been carrying buckets of warm water to my animals. I love the path idea, what a way to get exercise!

  13. Oh I laughed out loud! That was just too darn sweet of you! Goat Path!! HAHAA!

    It looks like they used it to play ring-around-the-rosey on!

    Yes...they may be spoiled but lots of lovin' means happy ones!

    Keep up the good work!!

  14. I, too, burst out laughing when the picture of the shoveled path popped up. The path is good for the goats, good for the chickens and good for you!

    Our temp is hovering around zero this morning and we've been feeding our chickens warm, cooked potatoes and squash. Unfortunately, they're not showing their appreciation (grumpf) as they're still not laying eggs since they went into their molt. Obviously, a serious talk with them is in order!

  15. What a cute post and a cute picture of the hens along your path!

    We shoveled paths for the chickens inside the run last year after the blizzards because I felt bad they had been in the coop so long. We had back to back blizzards last year with over 4 1/2ft. of snow.

  16. I think your spoiling your animals is a sign that you love them so much. And if it gets them outside then so much the better.

    Now, I wish someone would come a shovel paths for me! :)

  17. Jane, I don't know! Usually, they all assume right of way. Of course, the chickens will slip on by between goat legs, and the goats have begun to wander off the path a bit. :)

    Peaceful, cabin fever for sure! The chickens in particular don't have a real deep litter bed at present, so the manure is more of a problem in terms of smell. That was one motivation. From the goats I'm collecting the beginnings of a good spring compost pile!

    Mr H, "happy" is the all important key here!

    Beth, I imagine your dog just love being out there with you while you shovel a path for him!

    Alla, I bring mine warm water too. They really seem to love it, don't they? Fortunately it's been getting up above freezing during the day, so once warmed, the water doesn't freeze again until after the sun goes down.

    Diana, to listen to them you'd think they were being tormented rather than spoiled. :) Any excuse to beg for grain!

    Mama Pea, actually that squash and potatoes sound like pretty good human food! Yum. I'm fortunate in that my chickens didn't all moult at the same time!

    Toni, 4 and 1/2 feet? Good grief. And I thought our 7 and 1/2 inches was a lot. The chickens would certainly get tired of waiting for all that to melt!

    Benita, you're absolutely right. I truly do want the best for them. And I agree about getting them outside!

  18. Hubby and I have done the same thing before..lol! Works every time to get them outside...lol! Hugs!

  19. You are not spoiling your critters. We did the same thing when we had lots of snow for our sheep, goats and chickens. They loved it.

  20. The girls certainly look happy. Mine have eaten all the snow they can reach outside their door...but won't get their little feet snowy.

  21. That snow path is sooooo funny. I love it!

  22. Awesome! Love that chicken "follow the leader" pic. Very cute! -Carrie

  23. Our snow has also been slow to melt. Going on day five here. The chickens want out so bad. There is a small path in their outdoor run that they finally took the plunge today and got out in it.

  24. I live in the North East and we snow blew some paths for our pet! Who runs the roost . . . the dog does! LOL!!! I don't think you can spoil them enough! Our snow won't be gone until March/April! Have a wonderful weekend!


  25. You chickens on the goat path is high humor. I was disappointed when I clicked for big and didn't get big. It's still very funny. I don't think you spoil them, I think you give them a better life.

  26. Pam, so glad I'm not the only one to do this! LOL

    Barb, they do love it. I've noticed a few goat prints in the snow, but fir the most part, the path remains the road while the snow melts.

    City Sister, it's funny you should say that because I saw mine eating snow too. Never realized they did that.

    Robin and Carrie, thanks!

    Diane, poor chickens. Mine have a little cleared spot in their yard, but the ramp going in and out of the coop has been icy. They really prefer the easier access. :)

    Mary, well, thats an idea! Yes, we do tend to treat them extremely well, don't we. :)

    Sharon, sorry. I tend to be very stingy on those photo kilobytes! And I think you're right, it is a better life. And for that we have healthier critters.

  27. I'd say that yes, you are spoiling your critters. And GOOD FOR YOU! ;-) I spoil mine as well. I've been known to shovel paths for my sheep ~ but then I put hay down, just OFF of the path so they do have to venture one or two steps into the snow. That way the cleared area keeps getting bigger and bigger...

    Happy Winter!

  28. I can't say anything about anyone else possibly spoiling their animals.

    I just got back from the grocery where I purchased apples, a few greens and a small zucchini for my hens and bunny. I went to buy grapes but dang they were nearly $3.00 a pound and didn't look very good for that price.

    My hens do not care for snow so I must kick a path for them to leave their lil coop to get under a tarp overhang I rigged for them.

    Not spoiled .. just well loved!

  29. Spoiling them? Not at all! (guffaw)

  30. Nancy, thank you! Funny how animals will be daring for something good to eat. I hadn't thought about putting hay off the path, but I've noticed goat prints in the snow, always headed for some fresh tidbit or another!

    Penny, "not spoiled .. just well loved", perfect! I save all my garden scraps for our goats and chickens too and they do love them. I also chop up bits of meat scraps or fat for the chickens. That's a real treat!

    Katrien, LOL. Too bad they don't take it in stride. The goats in particular get more and more demanding. To hear them, you'd think they were deprived. :)

  31. we used to go shovel an area out of the snow for Lilly to go out and use as a bathroom...but she wouldn't go in it at all...usually she would go in the area and then crash through it's wall to go out in to the fresh clean snow to go. so now we don't bother except to get the snow off the back porch because it seems anywhere the snow is, is a place to go potty.

  32. I love the walking path! What a great animal Momma you are. =)

  33. Renee, sounds like Lilly was just enjoying the snow with her family! LOL

    Emma, thanks!

  34. Those are some happy, lucky animals! That's amazing that they'll walk the cleared path but not the snow.

  35. It's pretty funny, isn't it? The goats later started to venture out a ways in the snow if they thought there was something to eat, but the chickens never would!


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