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Are you raising chicks or getting hens raised by your neighbor?
I sure miss fresh eggs while I wait for my new batch of chicks to grow up!
What changes are they thinking of making to net metering in CA?
Certainly for homeowners like me who took on the risk of installing a solar PV grid tied system, net metering seems very fair, and without it I could not justify the investment.
Here in Maine one of my local state legislaters is pushing for further incentives such as compensating homeowners for excess generation, if any, instead of letting unused credits after the period of 12 months go free to the utility.
The daily routine here is open the coop up in the morning and close it up at night. I've never lost a hen locked up in the coop. Lone roosters were killed on two different occasions though when some small animal dug down under wire fencing to get into the paddock area; 6" wasn't enough depth of bury for the fence.
Quick google search for chicken water aquarium heater finds ideas like this:
But some concerns with aquarium heaters can be found here:
There's some basic elements in all good coops like nesting boxes and roosts, but there's no one perfect design. It depends on your site, objectives, and needs. I designed mine to be semi portable to move from paddock to paddock. The size was as large as would work with a 4×8 plywood sheet for the roof. For winter, I move the coop to the garden area where nothing but garlic is planted right now so the birds are close to the house and an extension cord will reach the coop. I'll post a photo if I can get it work later.
See Backyardchickens.com for tons of ideas for coops. good luck!
One cheap way to keep your chicken's water from freezing is to build a cookie tin heater. Put a light bulb socket and a low wattage 20 or 40 watt bulb inside one of those metal tins leftover from Christmas and place a waterer on top. When it's really cold though the top of the waterer can still freeze but the bottom tray where they drink should stay liquid.
I also tried putting a droplight with a 40watt bulb in a wooden box with a round hold on top just smaller than the drop light light reflect so it held it pointed up. Then I put a metal waterer on top. This worked pretty good until water and crud eventually messed up the light bulb socket.
Right now I have a 250 watt heat lamp that I use normally for chicks hanging over a bucket in the coop, but that's a pretty expensive rig to run continuously though, about $.90 per day at my electricity rate, or 50% of my normal electric bill. I could get a lower wattage bulb.
You don't have to heat the chicken coop but I'd make sure it's dry and free of drafts. I string some Christmas lights on the coop in winter which makes it easy to collect eggs in the dark and seems to keep the egg production up. I keep their water thawed with a base under the metal waterer that has a 40 watt incandescent bulb, and lug a bucket of hot water out in the morning too. Birds with large combs or wattles, especially roosters, can get frost bite there below about 0F without supplemental heat. Also, if you can't collect eggs until late in the day, they can freeze and crack if the coop is really cold.
I have to deal with really poor circulation and freezing in my hands in winter. One of the best investments I made to be able to enjoy the outdoors was in a pair of mountain/expedition mittens like they climb Everest with, plus a large supply of hand warmer packets.
Around here we don't own a TV but always have so many other activities and projects and family to focus on besides food that overeating on Thanksgiving doesn't happen!
My kids are into geocaching now, looking for hidden containers using GPS coordinates. It doesn't cost anything to do, and it gives us that extra motivation to go explore someplace new we haven't been before.
Ya I have to remind my kids, don't just wash hands before you eat, wash hands after handling the chickens before you touch everything else inside.
One reason I like to hatch my own chicks, as well as grow vegetables out back, is to reduce the risk of bringing home a disease.