Our flock doesn't like walking on snow so very much. But that means no sunshine. Aside from that, we have a new husky in the neighborhood who thinks it's great sport to snap their necks and leave them in our yard. (We're still waiting for the husky's owners to take some responsibility...) So... neither the hens nor I am too interested in them leaving the safety of their hen house. And after 5 snow days in a row, I can totally relate to the phrase "cooped up" in an all new way. The rooster is sporting a few black spots on his comb from the sub zero temperatures, but the hens are still laying admirably. Bringing in frozen, cracked eggs, I am flabbergasted by their production.
The only one who's got it good is the crazy hen who started sitting on 18 eggs under our back porch about 4 weeks ago. It only takes 21 days from the time they start sitting to hatch chicks, and, for some reason, this determined bird decided mid-winter was nesting season. Needless to say, her efforts were not well rewarded. Only four chicks hatched, and of those four, only one lives. (We'll not go into the state of my middle-school-daughter who has lost 3 chicks and two hens in the last week or so. It goes without saying that it's been traumatic.)
The crazy hen and the persistently peeping chick get the cush digs of a cardboard box in the insulated garage with a warming light on them. They get checked on multiple times a day and are given fresh spinach scraps and leftover spaghetti as dinner clean-up merits.
Perhaps it is a lesson in following your instincts, even when, logically, the timing doesn't seem right--even when tragedy is all around. There is still new life. There is still a warming light.