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By this time in winter, we have seen several snowfalls.  Sometimes a dusting, others a real snow, but this winter has been mostly rain or freezing rain  We went to bed last night listening to the dire warning being issued in the Northeast USA and a forecast for snow to fall beginning around midnight and accumulating up to 5″ here in Southwest Virginia.  We awoke to no snow on the ground, no snow falling and broken clouds.  Granddaughter hoping for snow later in the morning but wanting to wear her short sleeve, frilly “Frozen” dress, created a most interesting outfit.

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Her leggings are black and white with zigzags, hearts and other patterns, the boots as you can see are black and pink with multicolored polka dots.  She was ready to go out.

Daughter has commented that she needed slippers and warmer taller socks to wear, so we decided to venture out early to return something we purchased yesterday on our girls afternoon out while Mountaingdad and Grandson went to a movie.  We also were seeking socks and slippers for her.  Did you know that slippers are an item like gloves that are purchased by stores for Christmas and are not available year round?  We finally found her a pair at the third store we tried.

While we were out, the chickens were free ranging, but when we returned home a bit after noon, she and I lured them back to the pen so the dogs could wander.  Our dogs don’t mess with them usually, but their Golden Retriever by nature wants to chase them and barks at them even if he sees them coming and going from the coop.  When we went to lock them up and check for eggs, the coop smelled damp and too strongly of ammonia.  My two large round bales of hay that were set aside for coop use this winter and garden use in the spring have gotten wet and moldy and can’t be used in the coop anymore.  The local feed and seed had square bales of straw so I drove in to purchase two.  We are due for more very cold weather and I have already seen some frostbite damage on Romeo the rooster’s comb, so I had to do more cleaning than just adding layers to the coop and stirring up the layers.  Trying to leave at least some of the composting layer in the bottom, most of the hay was shoveled out and tossed into the run and into the compost bin, including the nesting box hay.  About a third of a bale of straw, clean and dry put a nice deep layer in the coop so hopefully the gang will stay warm and dry in the upcoming cold.

Though I don’t like to put food or water in the coop, I have been tossing a handful of scratch into the coop in the late afternoon to encourage the chooks to keep the bedding stirred up and broken down and the corn they eat helps them stay warm.

I guess the spoiled hay will be used to keep the run drier and less muddy and in the spring to mulch the garden.  I hate having to buy straw when we harvest 80 to 100 round bales of hay each spring.  Next year, I will find a better way to store it.

This afternoon, it has begun to rain off and on with a snow flurries expected as the temperature plummets to the teens tonight.  More is expected later this week and weekend, just as I have to ride a bus to Northern Virginia to babysit Grandson #1 and pick up my car from Son #1 who has been using it for a bit.

I really hope we have at least one good snowfall for the kids.

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