Nov 25, 2015

Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness
It's been a particularly distracted few days. We have a new member of the extended family, a houseguest (who is not around much, actually), and a few other bits and pieces to manage. It's Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., so there is preparation to do for that, as well as finish fighting off a couple of colds.

And so it can be, when there are all those types of matters on my mind, that I can fail to keep close enough eye on the weather. It has not been disastrous, but I missed the cues and have had to spend some extra time correcting my error.

The temperatures were just below freezing a few nights ago, and I checked the weather report quickly, and it looked like it would not get much colder for the next few nights.

Mistake 1 - acting as if today's forecast won't change

It was in the upper 20s Farenheight the next night - hmm, I thought, I guess that's the last cold night for a few days. Oh, dang, the plastic valve on the scrunchie hose burst last night. Note to self - get a replacement valve.

Mistake 2 - acting as if yesterday's forecast won't change

This morning, it was nearly 20F. sigh.

So, I had to use the old hot-water trick to get the hoses to flow. No more valves cracked, but the water flow timer refused to budge even with the hot-water trick, so that will be put away for the winter.

The temperatures climbed rapidly, and are near 50F, and it's sunny and not very breezy. Ahhhh.

And I have been reminded that this time of year, I need to be truly aware of the weather and add those little chores to the end of the day (draining hoses and putting them away, dumping swim pans) that make the mornings much easier.

Something I have done right, though, is keeping watch over the ducks. We have a new, very small (bantam) flock member. I don't know what her temperature range ideal is yet. Hypothermia is a real risk, especially with the smaller ducks. Her dark coloring is an advantage this time of year - if she sits in the sun, she is toasty. But a subtle difference, like a partly cloudy day, takes that advantage away from her for at least part of the day.

Ducks do let us know when they are too cold. They scrunch their necks up, often with bills resting on their breasts, they shiver, they walk stiff-legged, or don't stand at all but keep their legs and feet pulled into the feathers on their bellies. Their feathers are puffed out all the time. Young layers who tend to lay year-round will stop laying. Something I have not seen them do when they are too cold is huddle together. I don't know if it's just my flock, but someone told me not to worry, they'll keep each other warm. Not this bunch. So I need to watch for the other signs.

Keeping plenty of food and fresh water available helps ducks do well in colder weather - they need the fuel as well as their down feathers to stay warm enough.

In another weather- and duck-related project, the last good concrete-pouring day (for the new Day Pen) will be in a couple of days. If the forecast doesn't change. (c;