I need another one of these
I need another one of these

My goodness, the New Year came to Olympia with a shiver.  I know, I know, nineteen degrees is nothing for those of you who live in the northern states, but it’s cold enough for us moderate western Washington residents.

And it’s cold enough for our critters.  The first chore every morning is for this urban farmer to go out and chip the ice out of the water containers and put fresh water in….and then I do it again about nine a.m. because the water has frozen again by that time.

Yes, I could get those electric water container warmers, but those cost money, and they cost money to run electricity to, and I’m not big on spending money.  So we do it the old-fashioned way.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping our quail, rabbits, chicken et all alive during the winter is our main goal, and I’m happy to report we haven’t lost any of them this winter and we only lost two quail last winter.  Not bad…two quail in over a year.  We had one rabbit dig out of the rabbit area and we never found her, so chalk up one rabbit to our losses, and those losses will annoy the hell out of me the rest of this winter.

And those losses will inspire me to be better prepared next winter.


Right now Bev is watching a video on putting compost piles in the aviaries.  Evidently others have done it and it is great for not only adding heat to the aviaries but also for being a continual source of food for the quail.winter in my little slice of heaven 017

And I’m planning my carpentry jobs for this spring. I want to build two more aviaries and also a grape arbor, so I’m doing the planning not so I can hit the ground running when the weather warms.

In another month we’ll move the frame for the greenhouse and then all we’ll have to do is put plastic over it.  It should be up and running and ready for planting by the end of February….and then we’ll go to the Seed Exchange at our local Urban Farming Center and pick up some organic seeds gathered by local farmers.


For those of you who didn’t know, rabbits, chickens and quail love to eat fir boughs, so yesterday we made our weekly walk around the neighborhood picking up fallen branches.  Saves on buying feed, which is always a big consideration during the winter when the animals really aren’t producing for us.  Dandelions are also gourmet food for our critters, which we use often in the fall before the freeze stops their growth.

No shortage of fir boughs around here
No shortage of fir boughs around here


We need to buy a new incubator in the next few months.  This summer we will have over 100 quail, and we need to hatch as many of those 80+ eggs that we will get daily.  The ones we can’t incubate will be sold to neighbors.


We just took one of our rabbits to the vet to have an abscess taken care of.  No doubt about it, animals can be expensive, especially during the winter.  We don’t make any money from our chickens or quail during the winter month.  We don’t keep a light on sixteen hours a day during the winter to induce egg-laying, so basically all those birds are just eating our money during the winter.  Just something to remember if you are considering having critters on your property.


One question people always want to know is what needs a building permit and what projects do not need one.  In Olympia, detached structures under 200 square feet do not need a building permit. We have not needed permits for any of our chicken coops or aviaries because of that 200 sq ft limit and that pleases me because I really dislike that building code rule.  For your purposes, always check with your city to find out what you can and cannot do in your area.


I wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.  If you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to share them in the comment section.

PS….after I wrote this we lost a rabbit.   I’m not sure how it died but I hate losing animals.  I take it personally and I’ll feel this loss for days. Dammit!  But the weather has now warmed up so at least the remaining animals and birds get a break from the cold.



14 thoughts on “Winter Activities and Thoughts on the Urban Farm

  1. Hi Billy,
    Always nice to read of the goings on, down at the urban farm.
    I feel your pain when it comes to losing animals. It seems that we cannot stay detached, no matter how hard we try. We learn the little idiosyncrasies of our animals and in no time the little suckers have grabbed you by the heart.
    I hope the weather warms up soon and you can get back to the ‘fruitful’ times when food and electricity costs are thoughts can be left behind you.
    Best wishes,


  2. Thank you Sally! We decided long ago that we could never raise animals for food because we just get too attached and fond of them…sigh! Oh well, we always have our eggs. 🙂

    Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!



  3. Sorry for lost rabbit, my friend. Any loss in the family make a setback in – at least – my thinking process. On the positive notes it was, once again a pleasure to walk through your planing process, always reminding me of most memorably living on a farm with my parents having been involved in real life living with the nature. Oh, to be that young once more, no one would move me away from a farm, not even a Russian tank!
    Thinking of you more often then you see me in commenting process, and wishing you much success and all the blessings.


  4. Thank you, Michael my friend. Yes, any loss is a setback, a sad one for sure…..still we move forward and provide as best we can for the others still living with us.

    Love your statement….”not even a Russian tank! Bravo!

    blessings to you always


  5. Hi Big Bro!
    Yes, with animals – even the domestic ones who live inside your house – there’s always something to do. I haven’t made tea, yet, haven’t taken the dog out, yet…just waking up and doing some commenting. 🙂
    Working from home today. We’re right smack in the middle of that big east coast storm. I’ll probably have to get out and play with the dog later. 🙂
    It sounds like you’ve got quite the farm operation going. That’s pretty awesome. You’ll be a regular pro. In fact, your stories here made me think of this book I read called “Possum Living” – it’s pretty good. I found out about it through Mother Earth News. 😀
    Anyways, hope you’re well. Stay warm and stay safe!


    1. All is well here Cyndi…no big storm to worry about in our parts, just mild and constant rain. I’ve heard of that book you mentioned. Maybe it’s time I check it out. Hope it’s in the library. 🙂 Stay safe my friend and thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. PS – I’m with you on not being able to eat our raised animals as food. John and I always thought we’d end up with a geriatric chicken farm if we did ever actually get them. Hehe.

        Which, I know, does make me a hypocrite: I’ll get meat from the store, but I wouldn’t kill my own. If I couldn’t survive on nuts and berries in the wild…I’d either have to learn to like fish or starve. Killing animals is too difficult. Heck I had to rescue a pesky stink bug yesterday from my cat. Couldn’t kill it. Put it out on the porch – and not outside where I thought it would freeze. I’m slightly nuts, I know. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I saw your blog link pop up on my Facebook feed the other day and finally got over to checking it out, can’t believe I haven’t visited before… What a great idea! Sharing your tips and updates of your farm, I love it!! 🙂

    I get green just reading about your snow over there. Granted, we’ve never had to deal with snow storms here, but bloody hell – it’s HOT over here. Close 40 degree C weather for two weeks, fires galore, drought, water restrictions, the whole tooty. It’s pretty depressing. But it’s cooler today and, fingers crossed!!, there’s rain predicted for the next three days – halloloooya. The earth and plants and animals desperately need it. Not to mention our poor firefighters working themselves to the bone.

    Ah Bill, you are such a caring person… just love how much you love animals, it’s great to read and hear about. Those animals are lucky to be taken such good care of by you and Bev.

    And I’m with Bev.. I don’t kill spiders either. Neither just Geoff… it’s a no kill zone in this house. Except for the ants, and only when they overrun our house for a few days and won’t take a few subtle hints to scram.

    Anyways, hope you’re keeping warm this weekend!


    1. Mel, it’s always nice hearing from you. Sorry to hear about that heat and the fires. We had the worst summer for fires too….and now the wettest winter on record. It seems as though we are seeing many more extremes in the weather than in the past….something is happening and I hope we come to a realization about it and take care of this planet and the animals who live upon it.

      Anyway, I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by. Best wishes with that new job!


  7. Lovely post. What a great photo of your farm. We are in our summer with heatwaves and my garden needs to be watered sometimes twice a day ( by hand). We have lost some plants because off water restrictions. No rain for weeks on end. There are a lot of fires around us and the strong winds while the sun is baking everything dry is a totally different from where you are Billy I have been away from hub pages for a view weeks and I’m getting ‘homesick’. Nice making this connection again.


    1. Nadine, how nice to see you again. We had a summer like that last year…now we are paying for it with more water than we can handle. 🙂 I hope you are well…thank you for the visit.


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