A Winter Rest and Reset on the Homestead

A conibear trap set to kill whatever comes out of this hole.
A conibear trap set to kill whatever comes out of this hole.

I predict this is the week my body will finally “reset” to winter temperatures. It’s cold. It’s going to stay cold. We’ll see some snow, and then next weekend we’ll get even colder. No more days when the sun warms things up to 46 degrees; Thanks to the arctic blast, or whatever term you prefer, we’ll have a few days where it never gets above freezing. You know, winter like it’s supposed to be.

I can feel the reset already. When I’m outdoors, I unzip my jacket or take off my gloves because I get hot. I take my fleece off when I’m indoors. When the upstairs drops to 68 degrees, my wife doesn’t complain. We haven’t even used the upstairs wood burner for the past few days. Our bodies are adapting. The cold doesn’t seem.. well, as cold.

No More Outdoor Chores

Other than walking the dog and carrying firewood into the house, we don’t have to do any outdoor chores like weed whacking or gardening. With the cold, we’ll have to bring firewood in every other day instead of twice a week, but that’s no big deal. I’m expecting delivery of another load, which we’ll stack to replace the cord we’ve burnt so far. I like to stay ahead with my wood supply and generally get a delivery every month, December through July or August.

The wood we buy this December won’t be burned until next winter. That ensures it has plenty of time to season. Just the other day, my wife commented on how well the wood was burning this year. That’s because it sat in neat rows in our yard for at least ten months. So far, the woodman has not raised his price. I’m going to give him a pound of honey, but that hardly makes up for inflation. At least the price of gas has dropped back below $3.

Taking a Well-Deserved Rest

After a very busy first half of the week, I woke up yesterday and had no emails. Neither of my clients needed anything, and my volunteer activities are over until January. I got to take it easy. I finished a book, picked up another, and read it straight through. I didn’t watch any YouTube or other TV or streaming services. I stayed off my phone and didn’t read the news. It was a relaxing day. I recommend it.

I even turned down an opportunity to go to Sam’s Club.

I have an appointment in town on Tuesday, and after that, I don’t have any reason to leave the house until January 2. That’s a sure sign it’s winter. Snowed in or not, I get to stay home and keep a low profile.

Bees and Chickens

We finally fed all the donated pumpkins and gords to the chickens. If there is any truth to the old wives’ tale that pumpkin seeds help deworm chickens, my chickens should be worm free several times over. But even if that isn’t true, they do like the seeds and pecking at the pumpkin flesh keeps them busy. Interestingly, they like the gords better than the pumpkins and clean them up first.

The chickens don’t like the cold weather, but they can retreat into their coop in the coldest days, especially those that are still growing back some of their feathers after molting. When it stays below freezing, I have to remove the ice and give them fresh water twice a day because we don’t use a plug-in water heater. I have two waterers. If one gets frozen solid, I bring it into the garage to melt and take out the other one.

On Sunday, I plan to use the oxalic acid vaporizer to treat my beehives, knocking down any Varroa mites. Then I’ll do it again four to six days later, when my daughter is here. She likes to help with the bees. (We may do some target practice as well). Oxalic acid treatments are fast and kill mites that are not in the brood. Because there is little or no brood in the winter, it’s a good time to use the OA treatments.

An Unwelcome Guest

Something dug a hole under one of the raised beds. Two days later, a second hole, maybe an emergency exit, popped up a few feet away. These are not large holes; I’m thinking chipmunk. When I water the chickens, I pour water down the holes just to let our guests know they are not welcome.

A few days later, whatever it was dug in the raised beds. I don’t think they dug from the ground into the bed because half-inch hardware cloth covers its bottom. I think they climbed up the exterior and jumped into the bed. We had planted garlic around the border of the bed, so perhaps they are attracted by the cloves. It will be interesting to see if any grows in the spring.

I grabbed three 110 conibear traps out of my trapping supplies, carefully set them and positioned them over the holes. It’s been four days and I’ve caught nothing. My guess is that the chipmunks (or whatever) are not large enough to spring the trap. That’s good news because it means the holes are not from some larger creature, like some sort of weasel. Weasels or mink will kill chickens. Chipmunks aren’t a threat to the chickens; they are just an annoyance.

I have plenty of mouse traps, but I may pick up a rat trap or two and try them. I may also make a couple of small snares to put around or slightly into their holes.

For the record, I have not heard them singing the chipmunk Christmas song.