Chicken Deicing Strategies

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.

Satan's Spittoon thawing in front of my wood stove. I do not like farm implements in my living room. I'm funny that way.

Satan’s Spittoon thawing in front of my wood stove. I do not like farm implements in my living room. I’m funny that way.

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.

Some assembly required.  You've got to cut off the "false bottom" which is where the cord is stored during shipping.  (Hint" Dremel tools are your friend.)  Then drill holes and screw in the self tapping "chicken nipples".

Some assembly required. You’ve got to cut off the “false bottom” which is where the cord is stored during shipping. (Hint” Dremel tools are your friend.) Then drill holes and screw in the self tapping “chicken nipples”.

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.

When it's -20 this is a miracle.

When it’s -20 this is a miracle.

Bonus photo:

Bonus photo: Through a series of tactical and logistical blunders, Christmas the Turkey" is still alive and well and consuming feed like it's his mission in life.  "Kremlin" and "Speedbump" the ducks, also slated to be served with rice several months ago, look on.

Bonus photo: Through a series of tactical and logistical blunders, “Christmas the Turkey” is still alive and well and consuming feed like it’s his mission in life. “Kremlin” and “Speedbump” the ducks, also slated to be served with rice several months ago, look on.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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19 Responses to Chicken Deicing Strategies

  1. KA9VSZ says:

    Wait. I’m confused. Does this mean it is below 32 F inside the coop? If so, them’s some hardy cluckers. Have you considered using them as bed warmers (ala Garrison Keillor’s bed cats)?

    • Yes, it is below 32 in the barn. My chickens are bad ass survivalist free range killer poultry.

      • KA9VSZ says:

        Have you considered renting them out as cheap perimeter security? I could put up a sign: “Warning. This area patrolled by killer chickens.”

      • They’re awesome perimeter security in that anything that crawls or slithers is dead on sight. Something I quite enjoy. (Note: chickens aren’t good at catching mosquitoes. Also they co-exist peacefully with hornets instead of eating them as they should… modern science can’t explain this.)

  2. eli says:

    -400 Internets for the pic of Satan’s spitoon. I have seen too many of those, and thought I’d seen the last twenty-five years ago.

  3. nightsky says:

    “I try to work “chicken nipples” into every conversation”

    As well you should.

    Unfrozen Chicken Nipple Bucket Crappers would be a great name for a band.

  4. Cynthianne says:

    This was truly hilarious. I was laughing out loud most of the time. You have also completely quelled any impulse I might ever have to consider homesteading- especially in a cold climate.

  5. DHawk says:

    “chicken nipples ” my new word for the week.

  6. Joe in PNG says:

    Your fouls seem to find very little amusement in the term “chicken nipples”.

    I, however am giggling at the fact I just typed that…

  7. Pingback: Funniest Thing You'll Read Today | Les Jones

  8. Tom says:

    why I had no idea how well served you tough homesteaders were –

    bwahahahaha try not to pop a blood vessel

  9. Tom says:

    oh dear. You have destroyed by mental image of you arising on a peaceful morning, dressing, slipping into your tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches and then taking your $45 enamel white bucket out to your $1300 cedar chicken coop to collect some fresh eggs for your morning repast. I thought that was what being a homesteader was all about.

    one quick read of that link should tell anyone what is wrong with our country today.

  10. cspschofield says:

    My tired eyes keep seeing “Chicken Dicing Strategies”; lots messier.

  11. Chicken nipples? hah! You taught me something, today – I’ve dealt with satan’s spitoon, once upon a time that I never wish to go back to, but I never heard of chicken nipples!

    And yes, Dremel tools are our friends.

  12. Pingback: Post 2013: Materialism | The Adaptive Curmudgeon's Blog

  13. Lisa Nelson says:

    This is the funniest damn thing I’ve read in a long time! You should ditch the homesteading thing and do standup comedy about it instead. I’m sure it would be easier! I found you because I am trying to figure out if I’m going to fry my flock when I dunk the @#%%%!! de-icer unit I bought in anticipation of the “historic” (read it will be a dud) storm that is threatening the Northeast. I’m ready to buy a forty dollar bucket if this doesn’t work AND if I still have a living flock.
    Thanks for making me LOL. You made my day.

    • You know… I’ve still got that bucket. (And its twin, I made two.) Still in use. Done right they’re unkillable.

      I also have a heated dog bowl but that’s got drawbacks that involve a cat and make me laugh. Don’t buy one unless you hate your cat.

      Watch out for the de-icer. I used one of those and they suck. Sorry to rain on your parade. They can get hot, melt through plastic buckets, burn your barn down, order pizza on your credit card, steal your car, etc… I have a small one that’s “not bad” and a big 1000 watt one that’s nuclear and dangerous.

      I should re-post the page with links to the right gear on Amazon. It wouldn’t cost anyone any more money and I’m a greedy capitalist who wants beer money. 🙂

      I also made some warm weather buckets with chicken nipples and food service buckets. Really easy to make and dirt cheap. They’re a zillion times better than those evil galvanized pieces of hate (chicken waterers) they inexplicably sell at hardware stores.

      As always your mileage may vary, professional driver on closed course, void where prohibited, etc…

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