Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Northampton Farmers Market winter fair, chicken watering thoughts on an icy Saturday.
As those of you in this area know, the amount of ice on the ground this weekend and holiday was a bit excessive. The driveway was about as bad as it had ever been, but fortunately we'd just purchased YakTrax which are amazingly useful on getting up a sheet ice driveway. Note the photo Above isn't the current state of the driveway, right now it's just a sheet of glass basically. We've also gotten much better at sanding and dealing with the driveway, we only had to walk up and down once, which is a much better record than the past. The reason we ended up having to ice walk up the driveway was that we went to the Northampton Winter Farmers Market and their winter fair which has some really interesting educational classes. We only made it to one of them, but it led to some interesting thoughts for the future.
The class that we caught was a backyard chickens class. Much of what was discussed by the stock tank warmer the link is just an example of one. The nice thing about those is that it would guarantee that the water would be warm and flowing, and with a thermostat it wouldn't be running %100 of the time at least.The down side is that would use a lot of electricity, and we try to reduce that usage as much as we can.
gentleman teaching it we either already knew, or had found out the hard way. One of the things that was really interesting to us that we're probably going to be making use of was a 5 gallon bucket with nipple waterers screwed into the bottom. Obviously in the non freezing 6 months of the year that's great, but given how much of the year is below freezing for us the nipple waterer could have some problems then. The way he gets around that is a
I've been thinking about how to have a warm bucket of water for at least most of the day for the chickens without using constant electric heat for it, and I came up with a simple idea that will require some testing to see how well it actually works of course. The idea was since I don't want to use resources we aren't already using, what do we have that is already producing heat. The wood stove, which by the way we've had going non stop since the 27th of December without it going out. I'm kind of proud of that since it means we've gotten fairly good at it. But back to the water heater. What if over night we put stones on the stove to soak up heat all night long, get them to the skin searing heat of the skin of the wood stove itself. Put out already warm water in the 5 gallon bucket and then put the hot stones to keep the water warm. I think that what would be wise would be to have it in a wire basket or something of the sort to keep from melting or damaging the plastic over time.
Some challenges I'm thinking of off the top of my head is how to do that without damaging the plastic, and without steaming off the water. The first part is why I'm thinking a suspended wire basket within the bucket, probably with some padding, or insulation to keep from concentrating the heat on the bucket there. The second part, maybe attach the basket to the lid of the bucket in such a way that it makes contact with the water as I'm sealing the bucket so even if it does steam briefly we're not losing the heat that way. The other thing to do would be to insulate the bucket, but doing so in a way that neither taints the water, or gets pecked to pieces by the chickens isn't something I've figured out yet.
So there's my thinking on how to maybe do a hanging watering bucket without electric heat during the winter. Further thinking to come on this to be sure. If anyone has suggestions or thoughts on how to keep the chickens in liquid water dawn to dusk, so ~ 7 - 9 hours during the freezing months I'd love ideas and suggestions.