Gray days and chilly nights have brought big changes to the henhouse. Since my last visit in September, the girls have shed their feathers and put on winter coats, and they were looking so very handsome and plump when I stopped by last week. Egg production has come to a near-standstill, a result of shorter day length, but my friend has no plans to turn the lights on to keep them laying. I’m curious to see what happens when freezing temperatures finally demand a heat lamp.

Anyway, this wasn’t just a social call. I was there to trade the last of my wormy apples, which the girls love snacking on, for something more useful to me: a big box of chicken poop and bedding, which I took home and mixed with lots of dry leaves as recommended by Seattle Tilth. If I can get the pile to heat up adequately, the resulting compost should be good to go for spring plantings.