We had our first proper frost last night as the thermometer dipped below freezing. With customary anxiety, I awoke several times through the night with chickens on the brain. Particularly young frizzled chickens. Gladys has been off heat for several months at this stage, but the curious formation of her feathers make me doubt their insulation abilities. She doesn't seem to be suffering, but I am keeping a close eye. I have been told by some breeders that frizzled birds are less hardy to the winter elements, and yet others have reported no problems. I am tempted to create some kind of chicken sleeping bag, just to be sure, but have so far resisted. I imagine that the ever tolerant husband would seriously look in to redecorating the bedroom with soft walls if I were to mention the sleeping bag idea.
Blearily, I made my way downstairs this morning and peered out of the kitchen window. The hens were all present and correct and busy getting breakfasted. As I watched, Hilda mooched over to the drinker and dipped her head for a drink. Imagine her surprise when the water actually repelled her attempts. As her beak rebounded from the frozen surface, she squawked in surprise. The squawk drew Gladys's attention who curiously pecked at the previously drinkable wet stuff. They stood about a bit, unsure what to do next. Mabel sailed over in her resplendent new plumage and dipped down for a cooling drink. Meeting resistance, she eyed the drinker and then the two youngsters. Perhaps she suspected witchcraft. Before a Salem type situation could ensue, I dashed outside to collect the drinker.
When I replaced it, fully defrosted, the rest of the flock dived in to wash down their pellets. The newbies hung back, a little suspicious of the changeable H2O. The others drifted away to have a good preen, and Hilda once again approached. She pecked gingerly at the surface, and came up with a bead of water on her beak. This was apparently good enough, and both girls gulped down a cropful of water.
A little physics lesson for you ladies.