This is our first chicken owning winter that we haven't forced eggs...
and they are getting scarcer than hen's teeth around here.
We broke down and bought eggs from Frankferd's due to the Christmas cookie baking that went on this weekend...20 dozen cookies for my husband's staff uses up quite a few eggs.
Let me be the first to say if you buy eggs, they "pale" in comparison to the rich dark yellow eggs of summer. I love the eggs when the chickens have been eating lots of grass and eggs.
In winter, we have them in a shed. We tried to put a run on to the side, but the ground froze before we got a chance. The shed has deep litter composed of hay and leaves from the yard. We saved a garbage can full of leaves for mid winter when their litter will need a refresher.
We've been getting a few eggs every day. I am careful to get them around noon so that they have been layed. but haven't had a chance to freeze. (During a blizzard I had a few days were I couldn't get out there last year, when I went to wash the "naturally refrigerated eggs" they all cracked from being frozen.)
Use the hose to fill up the waterer.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot tap water, one gallon at a time.
Boil a tea kettle full of water.
Lug both down to the shed
Wedge your way in so the chickens don't escape.
Use boiling water to defrost the waterer so that you can open it.
(careful...don't scald the chickens)
It helps if you also manage to bring the scraps to distract the girls from the water.
Use the bucket to fill the waterer.
Fill up the feeder.
While I'm down there, I also dump out the compost which often has animal foot prints around it.
We must have some well caffeinated wildlife around here.
The eggs may not be as dark as the ones in the summer, and a bit more difficult to come by, but they are still better than any egg I've ever bought.