If you are
dumb enough to be a homesteader and made moronic geographic decisions live up north, homesteading in winter is a challenge. A huge portion of my quality of life is solely determined by whether the chicken waterer freezes up or not. Consider this:
Homesteader #1: “My kid joined a cult, my truck caught on fire, my dog ran away, and my house has been repossessed by the Amish mob.”
Homesteader #2: “Bad luck eh? My chicken waterer froze up.”
Homesteader #1: “You poor bastard!”
Today the sun is shining brightly. Thus it’s all the way up to -14 Fahrenheit. (It was about -20 this morning.) My normal chicken waterers are pretty much ice sculptures. I won’t get use out of them until the corn has germinated. Note: these were winterized devices too. I use a heat plate (designed for this purpose) beneath a standard galvanized waterer. It worked all last year. Which is to say that last year was warmer than this year. They seem to ice faster each day.
Here’s a useful homesteading hint; once a galvanized waterer freezes you’ll tear your spine out trying to bust it open it to chip away the ice and add more water. I have nicknamed galvanized waterers “the spittoons of Satan” and am forwarding my chiropractic bills to the chickens.
Finally I “upped my game”. My method of keeping water thawed isn’t the only choice. There are others. (For example; moving to Virginia, butchering the damn chickens, or switching careers to something that is easier, like hired assassin.) However, I can say that my method has worked so far.
I’ve resorted to electric heated buckets. The newest one has a built in element. I recently bought it from Amazon. Here’s a totally true homesteading fact:
“The advent of the Internet means that I have, at my fingertips, the sum total of all human knowledge. It also means that I can browse from, and purchase, almost anything imaginable. I used this limitless power to buy… a bucket.”
I’m glad I did too! After the medical x-ray and the internal combustion engine they’re the greatest invention ever. I also have Amazon prime, which means I get a deal on the shipping. Here’s another fact:
“FedEx has the amazing ability to deliver things from nearly anywhere in anywhere else literally overnight. This is as astounding as it is expensive. I used this amazing service to receive… a bucket.”
Yes folks, when the nights get long and the harsh winds blow it makes perfect sense to have a $40 bucket FedExed to my Compound. The guys on “Little House on the Prairie” could never have dreamed how awesome the future would be.
This electric bucket is expensive but boy is it nice. My other electric “system” is a normal bucket with a heating element (designed for this purpose) suspended within. (It cost about the same but looks lamer and the chickens keep messing up the power cord.)
They’re both miracles! Here comes another astounding fact:
“There comes a time when it makes perfect sense to burn coal in massive factories that convert ancient carbon to electricity, ship the power 500 miles on copper strands, route it to a crappy old barn, and use it to keep poultry happy. That time is now.”
So far both stay unfrozen down to -20. They’ll probably work even colder. The chickens show their appreciation by flying up to the rims, perching on them, and crapping in their water. Chickens remind me of humans.
I decided to turn the dial to eleven. You can buy things called “chicken nipples”. Go ahead say that last phrase aloud; “chicken nipples”. Are you laughing? No? Why the hell not? That’s the funniest phrase ever. I try to work “chicken nipples” into every conversation.
Chicken nipples… OK wait a minute… I’ll stop laughing, I promise… Ahem…
Chicken nipples let your poultry stand under the bucket and tap out drips of water with their beak. It’s like a giant hamster bottle. I know from experience that ducks and turkeys can use them too. I’ve been using them (in the summer only) a while and they don’t spill on the floor or make a mess. Chicken nipples in a 5 gallon bucket are the Cadillac of the homestead poultry world.
I drilled holes in my expensive, overnight shipped, coal powered, $40 bucket and threaded three hilariously named “chicken nipples” into them. Shockingly, it worked. I’m one happy homesteader.