Notes from Windward: #68


A Close Call

we almost lose the winter chicks

     For a month we've been lost in the clouds as the weather shifts from the rainy season into serious winter, and last week's two-foot deep snowfall was more than we've have for the past few years combined, so our thoughts have been directed towards keeping the driveway passable and water lines from freezing up--the last thing we thought we'd have to deal with was something getting too hot!

     This fall we continued working on the Propagation Greenhouse enhancing its insulation so that it would be able to hold its warmth as we continue our efforts to extend our growing season. Meg had cut sheets of insulation for the northern half of the roof, so when Mo's winter incubation efforts started to pay off, we installed the insulation and set up the brooder in there. The back half of the brooder has a light and heater bar sufficient to keep the newly hatched chicks warm on these cold winter nights, and Noel, Jan and our latest hatchling, Les, have been coming along nicely.

     Today was the first day that we've had clear skies and bright sunshine. With over-night low in the mid-20's, the last thing on our mind was that the chicks were in danger of over-heating. Around ten this morning, I stopped in to check on the chicks, and was shocked to note that it was 96 °F inside! The chicks were standing as far away from their heater as they could get, and their panting showed that they were in distress.

     We left the greenhouse door open to cool it down while we turned to the task of hooking up the thermostat-controlled exhaust fan. The goal is to use passive techniques to keep Prop House from overheating, but when those aren't enough, the electric fan will kick in and exhaust enough air to keep the temps from going too high.

     We've really gotten a kick out of these off-season chicks, and it would have been too ironic to lose them to heat when the ground's covered with snow.

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 67