Do My Chickens Need a Heat Lamp?

should I use a heat lamp in my chicken coop?

Do your chickens wear sweaters?

Mine don’t, although I have to admit the pictures I’ve seen of sweatered hens are pretty cute. Alas, knitting is one area where my craftiness fails me, so I don’t see myself creating outerwear for my flock anytime soon.

But it brings us to an important topic– how exactly does one keep a chicken warm in the winter?

When I first got my chickens, I assumed they needed supplemental heat anytime the thermometer dipped below freezing. I mean, I was cold, so they obviously were too, right?

There’s actually a bit of debate surrounding the whole topic of chickens and heat lamps (not a surprise, because there seems to be debate surrounding everything these days…), so let’s look at this a bit closer.

Why do People Use Heat Lamps for Chickens?

Most people follow the same thought pattern I did: If I’m cold, my chickens must be cold too. Being the kind-hearted homesteaders we are, we want to make our animals as comfortable as possible. This usually means installing a heat lamp or two to provide extra warmth on those chilly days.

I did this for a while, mostly because I assumed it was the “right” thing to do–especially considering we homestead in Wyoming where it’s freeeezing cold during the winter months. 

But as I did more research and made more observations, I started to question as to whether this was actually correct…

are heat lamps safe for chickens?

Why Heat Lamps can be a Problem

First off, thinking an animal must be cold, just because we are cold, is a faulty assumption.

Chickens have feathers. Cows and goats have layers of winter hair. We don’t. Most all animals are designed to withstand weather conditions without any help from us humans. It can be hard for us to accept, but it’s true.… [Continue Reading]

Homemade Bagels Recipe

how to make bagels

Today I’m welcoming Maria from Ten At The Table as she shares her homemade bagel recipe. 

Homemade bagels are one of my favorite fall breakfasts and snacks.

They are absolutely delicious, and keep you full til lunch, which I like because it means that certain little kids wont be asking for more food an hour after breakfast. :)

Making bagels does take a bit more time and effort than buying them at the store, but they are also so much more flavorful and satisfying. All the work is worth it!

Plan to knead the dough for a good ten minutes to get the unique bagel texture we all know and love. (I recommend recruiting family members to take turns kneading).  Then when those yummy smelling bagels finally come out of the oven, cut them open and slather them in fresh butter or homemade cream cheese.

homemade bagels recipe

Homemade Bagels Recipe

Yield: 8 bagels

 Dough:

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or flour of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sucanat (where to buy) or brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Water Bath:

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached pure cane sugar

Instructions:

how to make bagels at home

Combine all the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead vigorously by hand for 10 minutes. (You can also use a stand mixer.)

homemade bagel recipe

The dough will be stiff. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 1 1/2 hours. This is more to relax the gluten, than to let it rise. It will rise some, but not as much as other yeast doughs.

how to make bagels

Transfer the dough to a work surface and divide it into eight pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth, round ball. Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 30 minutes.… [Continue Reading]

Snow Ice Cream Recipe

old-fashioned snow ice cream recipe make with maple syrup

Lately, my Facebook feed has been filled with people bemoaning the fact it’s winter…

The cold… the wind… having to bundle up before going outside… people just aren’t happy.

But can I tell you a secret?

I actually love winter. The longer I homestead, the more I appreciate the cycles of nature, and savor the shifts. Welcoming new life in the spring, working hard in the summer, harvesting in the fall, and hibernating in the winter… I crave the rhythm and honestly appreciate the quieter, colder months when I can spend more time resting, rejuvenating, and consuming good books by the light of the wood stove.

old-fashioned snow ice cream recipe make with maple syrup

And I just found a new reason to love winter: snow ice cream. Because when you’re buried under several feet of snow drifts, why not put it to good use?

One caveat: If you’re looking for a perfectly smooth gourmet ice cream recipe, this isn’t it. (But you probably will enjoy my simple raw vanilla ice cream instead!). However, snow ice cream is a fun way to make memories, and the kids (or grandkids) will get a huge kick out of it.

Oh! And make sure you’re using local, organic, GMO-free snow… Of course….

(This post contains affiliate links)

old-fashioned snow ice cream recipe make with maple syrup

Snow Ice Cream Recipe

Yield: Approximately four servings

old-fashioned snow ice cream recipe make with maple syrup

In a small bowl, whisk together the cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.

old-fashioned snow ice cream recipe make with maple syrup

Quickly pour this mixture over the snow, and mix thoroughly.

Eat immediately, as snow ice cream melts fast. It also doesn’t refreeze well, so you’ll want to eat the entire batch in one sitting.

Kitchen Notes:

  • If you don’t have maple syrup, you can substitute 1/2 cup of granulated sugar instead.
[Continue Reading]

Best Winter Chore Clothes for Homesteaders

the best winter chore clothes for hometeaders, farmers, and country folk

Rosy red cheeks, lightly falling snowflakes, and mugs of homemade hot chocolate

When most people think of winter, I imagine those are some of the first things to come to mind.

Me?

Well, let’s just say the visions dancing through my head tend to lean towards boots caked in slushy manure, a mudroom with mountains of coats and gloves, and perpetual brown puddles on the tile floor… But that’s just life when you live in a climate with heavy-duty winters–

I’ve had a number of you email me and ask what exactly we wear during our subzero winter days, so I’ve decided to break down our winter chore “uniform” today. It’s not exactly stylish (unless you’re a penguin… or a giant marshmallow…) but after spending eleven winters working and surviving here in Wyoming, I’ve figured out some tricks to stay (mostly) warm.

(If you’re curious about our severe Wyoming winters, check out my blizzard preparation post. It has some jaw-dropping pics from our first year here on the homestead. And this short video will give you a glimpse of a ground blizzard. When it comes to snow, Wyoming doesn’t mess around.)

the best winter chore clothes for hometeaders, farmers, and country folk

Best Winter Chore Clothes for Homesteaders

Lots of Layers

My least favorite part of winter chores is how long it takes me to get dressed before going outside… However, layers are your friend when it comes to staying warm during barn chores, so it’s worth the extra time it takes to layer up.

I wear hoodies pretty much from September through May (so glamorous, huh? At least it saves me time on clothes shopping…), and they always make up my foundational layer. I prefer heavier Carhartt or Underarmour hoodies, as they tend to be a bit warmer.

Over that I often wear a quilted duck vest (like this one).… [Continue Reading]