Deep winter bedding

Pine shavings 12 inches thick.

Deep compost bedding for chickens is so far one of the most efficient ways to keep a flock warm and comfortable over cold winters. For the sake of ease I will refer to “deep compost bedding” as DCB.

We started DCB in our coop several winters ago after having a heck of a time controlling moisture and cold temperatures which led to frostbite on some combs and waddles (which is painful but curable) Frost bite happens when exposed flesh becomes too damp and the frost sets in. Roosters often suffer the worst with their big floppy combs and giant waddles.

I switched to using pine shaving after some deep research on straw. The pine shavings draw moisture and stop the growth of all sorts of nary things.

DCB how to get started. You’re gonna need to pull any straw out of the coop. Straw holds moisture and can mildew creating a baddddd situation for your flock.

Letting the flock out in the morning.


Pine flake bedding, is your best option but wood shavings from a saw mill are fine as long as there is NO cedar shavings. Cedar oil is VERY toxic to chickens 🐓.

Clay based cat litter: Clay only litter will draw moisture and won’t grow mold.

PooKashi: a Probiotic additive you out directly on the bedding. It eats harmful bacteria and ammonia.

A pitch Fork: You can never underestimate the uses of a strong metal tine farm fork.

Wintering Bees

Snow covers the land.

Wintering bees is always a challenge, but isn’t rocket science! Bees are originally from warm climates but have adapted to live even in the coldest of places, like Southern Colorado!

Most large bee keeping operations have shipped their buzzing friends off to warmer lands where the Queens of each colony will keep laying with no break.

Winter is when the colony gets to rest, and the Queen slows and stops laying until spring. She can take a breath and enjoy her subjects, and explore her honey and wax filled domain.

Master Bee keepers around the world are baffled at Colony collapse. It isn’t a mystery to us small hive keepers.

The key to a healthy thriving colony is a strong Queen. Bee. By letting her majesty rest, she will be ready for the task come warmer weather of building her brood, and then swarming to a new kingdom leaving the domain to her new princesses. ( Who May or May not combat her fellow chosen sisters for the right to be the Queen for the remaining hive.) Workers will continue their duties and help the new Queen as they would the last.

The Queen rules the hive, but doesn’t run it. Worker bees see to her every need, from cleaning her chambers to bringing her nutrient rich royal jelly from deeper in the hive made especially for her and her brood.

By treating the matriarch of the hive with gentle respect ( opening the hive only when essential for inspection, proper wintering and rest) shell thrive and live for a long time. A master bee keeper told me that back in his grandfathers day a Queen could live ten years if she was cared for. Now they live and average of 3-4 years. I asked him why he thought that was. He only shrugged and set the bear trap.

I believe in my humble opinion that the cause of a major collapse is the loss of a healthy, strong Queen. When we ask her to lay 12 months a year when her biology says 7-8 (depending on her location ) you can imagine Jar the extra work would have a toll on the entire colony. But that’s my hummmmbumble bee opinion on such a sticky matter.

We moved our small hive into a better location that has longer winter sun exposure, and makes their purge flights more convenient for everyone!

The entrance to the hive is facing East, and gives them morning warmth.

Let nature do the rest.

Fall is when the great Mother settles for her time of rest over the long cold of winter. Soil regenerates and the worms sleep.

Pumpkins finish ripening in the cold nights and warm days.

We don’t pull up the stocks of any of the plants, we let the birds pick the last of the seeds and the roots die off naturally, giving back every bit of their nutrients as possible from the decaying roots and plant material. Chipmunks nibble on the sunflower sticks, and the migratory birds stop over at our small pond to refuel before continuing south.

The weather has been amazing since the storm, pushed and held over the Rockies by the heat of California’s fires. We got nine inches of snow, temperatures dropped 60 degrees in 24 hrs and had 65-70mph winds on 9.9.20.

It was great for our dry creeks and mountains, but hell for the farmers. We buried what we couldn’t harvest under a foot of straw and covered the berries with weed block.

After the pounding 💨 wind, and snow all that was left was the lettuce and berries.

The bees made out just fine, confused by happy on the next sunny day!

Two days later the ladies are out in force to hit what’s left out in the fields.

BEES 🐝!!!

I installed my first package of bees back in May! I’ve got a funny little Hive made by Summer Hawk.

It is cute, and smaller than the standard Langsworth. (Smaller by 2 inches!$) but it serves its purpose. Housing my bees. I got the hive back in 2018. But it sat empty for almost two years until this year I SWORE I was going to have bees this spring!

Yogi Bear is a jerk, and so is Boo Boo.

A very concerned flock.

Most humans will rarely encounter a bear. And that is a good thing. Here in the southern Colorado Rockies we have the Native Black bear. Now don’t be fooled by the coloration in the name.

Black bears can be white, blond or in the case with my two stooges, an adult cinnamon with a shoulder that reached my lettuce hoop, and a new kid. Typical, black and white markings on his chest.

For the sake of clarification, we are going to call the big Red bear, Yogi, and his young accomplice Boo-Boo.

Boo boo was the first to arrive for the backyard party. I was awoken to a crash, and my boxer Jack, growling at the end of my bed. I was on my feet and at the back door in time for Jack to fly out past me, and flush a bear out of the side yard. And here came Boo-Boo staring wide eyed over his shoulder at me as he climbed my fence, with a pullet in his jaws!

I sounded the alarm with a few rounds of my 20ga… and he moved on for the morning.

I came out to what looked like a crime scene with the Hulk gone mad. Feathers for days, metal fencing bent and twisted like it was a soft noodle. And the chaos of frightened bewildered survivors.

So we set to cleaning up the pullet yard and tightened security, wove the fencing with bailing twine (might as well be mithrel the way I wove it) moves motion lights to the back, and got back to daily chores.

That evening sitting at the dinner table around 2300 watching a new Netflix binge of the week, the back motion light came on.

Three nights , two different bears.

End of the season.

Sunday was our last day for the summer market in Blanca. The hard chargers who braved the new market from the beginning stood with the wind and the fall sunshine on the tree filled grounds.

Those who remained recounted their sales, counted their new friends and began to plan for the fall and winter festivals.

I was reflecting on the awesome and strange that came to our small, humble yet diverse open market.

A Night Jar landed on my canopy, and to the mystical surprised everyone, hung out while we hustled our wares.

While much of my outdoor season was done save for the potatoes, summer squash, some greens and bolito beans the dome is still in full swing.

While our season here is at a close you can always email me @ To join our beeswax updates and CSA. You can also find our eggs, seasonal produce and herbs at Cids in Taos New Mexico.Cids food market

Continue reading “End of the season.”