Polar Vortex

It’s been more than a year since we found our very first egg nestled in the pine shavings and straw of our backyard coop. But finding the first egg certainly wasn’t the last of the “ovo-excitement” around here. Every time I open the hatch to the nesting box and see a freshly laid egg, I’m thrilled.

Backyard Eggs

And when the days are short, the temperatures cold and the eggs come less frequently, I’m even more delighted to find a breakfast package waiting for me. Like all of the backyard chicken owners I’ve met, I thank the ladies (out loud. my neighbors may think I’m nuts) and then beeline for the house, cradling another precious egg.

Roz's Eggs

There’s no question, the eggs are coming few and far between these days. Daylight hours are minimal. We’ve been battling below-zero temperatures for days. And right now we’re smack in the middle of a POLAR VORTEX! What does a polar vortex mean? Twenty-three degrees below zero when I woke up this morning. That’s all I need to know.

So, how’s my flock faring in the frigid temps? They’re not going outside much, I can tell you that much. Here they are this morning. And believe me, they were not happy with me when I opened their coop door to snap a few photos of them. They squawked in protest as a blast of cold air entered their home.

Chickens under the heat lamp

Chickens in their coop


The heat lamp is keeping our flock cozy and warm in their coop. I’m constantly checking their vulnerable feet and faces to make sure they aren’t covered in ice. And I look out the back window regularly to make sure the lamp’s red glow is still visible.



And their water warmer is working extra hard to keep their hydration station from freezing solid.




But while the chickens are staying warm, their eggs aren’t always so lucky. I’m constantly trying to avoid this. A cracked, frozen egg discovered in the nesting box. A tragic waste.

I’m so over you, Polar Vortex.

Stay warm!


9 thoughts on “Polar Vortex

  1. I’m in North Florida and have my own little backyard flock. I get worried about MINE in the low temps that we have so I like to see chickens in snow to remind myself that they can handle more than I think they can. Ours love warm oatmeal on these colder mornings. I’ve been going back and forth on putting a warming lamp back in their coop but I get so worried about it falling into the shavings and starting a fire.

    I snickered when I read that you thank them for the eggs every morning….I always hope my neighbors don’t hear me!

  2. We left MN last May for our permanent return to Texas! I am so sorry for the frigid temps you and everyone in the Great Plains are experiencing. I so enjoy the your chicken stories! In fact, before we moved south we attended the chicken class at Urban Farm in St. Paul. We have some land and would like to raise chickens eventually! Here our concern will be the heat in the summer. My best to you and your chickens please keep warm. Love all the stories about your work, love, chickens and life!

  3. It is not always a waste. We let them thaw and then wash them carefully. Most of the cracks actually come back together as they thaw. we then keep these separate and use them right away. They are always very good…freezing has not hurt them at all. If, as we wash them, we see that there is “chicken waste” near the crack, we do throw them for health safety reasons.

  4. We have been having this same problem in Western Wisconsin, and also in this “Polar Vortex” We have a bigger coop than you, but we have one of our 3 heat lamps close and pointed at the nesting boxes. We got 15 (unfrozen) eggs today! (-23 degrees)

  5. After four years of obsessive research, I just ordered my first four babies from Egg|Plant in St. Paul. I can hardly wait. I won’t have them until April. I still can’t figure out what to do when we go out of town. But still so excited. Please post more chicken photos! (in all your spare time . . . heh heh). Do you keep the food/water outside in winter? Do they have the door open on very cold days and go in and out?

    • That’s awesome Rani!! When we go out of town, I hire caretakers to come over and stay with the chickens and Henry. Yes…food and water stays outside but their coop door stays open almost all the time so they can get into the run. When it’s polar vortex cold I close it though! Their heat lamp keeps them nice and warm. 🙂 I’ll keep posting pics! Thanks for reading and CONGRATS on taking the chicken plunge!!

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