It’s been an incredibly dry winter here in Minnesota, and the snow I depend on to water the chickens has been nonexistent.
A large heated equine water bucket does the job every winter. I plug it in and place it inside the chicken pen. As the snow falls, it keeps a nice fresh water source for the chickens, cats, dogs and occasional predator. When there’s a big snowfall, I simply shovel snow into the bucket. This really saves time and energy as I don’t have to haul buckets of water from the pump, which is located about 200 feet away. And the chickens enjoy gathering ’round the water cooler to share the latest gossip and cluck about Civil War history.
Unfortunately, this winter the flakes aren’t cutting it. So I get lazy and leave ice cream buckets and Cool Whip containers filled with tap water just inside the pen instead of filling up the heated bucket. The birds sip the water until they are satisfied, then it freezes. Frozen water is worthless to a yardbird.
Last night I felt a burst of energy and decided to fill it to the rim so the chickens could easily reach the warmish water. I grabbed a few of the frozen containers and dumped the ice chunks into the empty bucket, and proceeded to march to and from the pump to fill it to the top. It was exhausting, but my birds are worth it!
After the second trip, I noticed that the chickens were standing alongside a steady stream flowing from beneath the heated bucket. It reminded me of the little stream that flowed through the prison yard at Andersonville, Georgia before Providence Spring brought hope to the prisoners . Thoughts of what the brave men at Andersonville endured always makes me sad. But I digress…
I dumped more water into the bucket, and saw that all of the water flowed straight through an ice-cream-bucket-edge-sized hole in the bottom. The chickens looked up at me sideways with precious, muddy water dripping from their beaks. Small rivulets of the stream flowed around their feet and out through the other side of the pen.
Cackling commenced. I rounded up the birds and sent them into the coop to dry their feet before frostbite set in. I’d had enough of their dry, pathetic attempts at humor and wisecracks about my crack.
I unplugged the bucket and through it in the trash. For 9 years the heated pail solved my watering problems during the winter months. Now that the bucket has kicked the bucket, I’ll have to figure out another efficient way to water my thirsty birds. Or perhaps a Providence Spring — with much needed precipitation — will finally come to Golden Farm?