Even in summer, I have to feed the chickens. They can forage in the woods, so I don't feed them as much as I do in winter, when they are completely dependent on the cracked corn and scratch they get from the barn.
I have started buying forty pound sacks because the fifty pound sacks are getting hard for me to lift. Feed is like cement. It shifts on you, and it's like lifting a dead body. Harder than it sounds.
I keep a lot of animal feed stored in the barn, and I try hard to keep the supply levels up.
Once, years ago when I didn't store as much as I do now, we had an ice storm. It was almost three weeks before I could get a vehicle up to the house because the sun never shines on the jeep trail in winter. I had to park the truck down on the hard surface road. When I ran out of chicken feed, I had to haul it from the truck, to the old forest service road, then up the dirt county road, then up the jeep trail, on a sled. I could do that when I was in my thirties. I doubt I could do it now.
Cracked corn runs about eight dollars a bag here. Scratch feeds run about $12.00 a sack. I don't buy a lot of that. I don't buy laying mash, or pellets, or any of those.
I get eggs from my chickens, but the dogs eat more of them than I do.
After this summer, I have about 75 chickens, more than I need. They are free range, so they aren't much of a bother.
If events dictate it, I'll eat the chickens. I have plenty of roosters I could spare. When I was a kid I had to help my mom butcher chickens. I didn't like it then, and I don't want to do it now, but I could if I had to.
For the most part, I have chickens because my wife likes them. She likes to feed them and she likes to watch them foraging in the woods while she sits on the porch swing.
I don't mind them. They keep the area around the buildings free of weeds , they're a good alarm system, and they eat snakes.
With winter just a couple of months away, there are things I need to start doing. I have to put the heater back down in the pump house soon. Then I'll put bales of hay around and on top of the pump house, and it won't freeze up in sub zero weather.
This year, we've decided to bring the dogs inside the main house during the winter. Tuggy is too old to survive another cold winter outdoors, even with the straw bale dog house.
They can go out for awhile to roust around during the day, but at night when it's so cold that pine trees limbs are cracking out in the woods, they will have to stay in the house. We will put a rug for them by the hearth.
Time to get ready for winter. But we still have some summer like weather ahead of us. The drought here is getting serious now, and I'm hoping we will get some rain as October comes in . By the end of November we will be having snow, if this is a normal year. Supposed to be lots of snow and ice this winter, but we can just fort up on the mountain top and ride it out if need be.