Tag Archives: Pets

Peep Peep

When the little fluffy bits of wiggling, scampering, peeping down arrived in baby form, my phone rang. It was the post office. The babies arrived in the mail!! Yea!

I flew down to the post office in the closest pants I could find. It was 7:00 in the morning! It was exciting! It was terrifying…

I had no clue how this whole thing would turn out. I didn’t know how they would turn out. I knew what breed, yes, but I didn’t know if they would be nice birds or mean birds.  Blah, blah, blah… (Insert worried panic-stricken face here). I was freaking out.

After raising other older biddies. I’m well aware of the potential for  different personalities. You can end up with chickens from hell, and rue the day you ever embarked on raising any, or you can get some really sweet birds. Still, I had ordered 14 and ended up with 15. I guess that extra chick was for luck. They added her to the order for the extra body heat at no charge. Biddies can get cold traveling and need each other to maintain a constant temperature.  Either way, I was in deep and now no matter what transpired I was a surrogate Mother to 15 – 24 hour old baby peeps. God Help Me.  God Help my bathroom…

Yeah… Ya see, I didn’t think this out very well. They ended up in the guest bathtub. Unceremoniously deposited on some utility towels and given food and water. Oh Gezz! They  need heat! I ran around thinking, thinking, looking, looking… Oh Thank God! A reptile light!  – Don’t laugh. I was desperate! Then I positioned an expansion rod over them and hung the light. Whew!  They were fine and happily pecking bouncing and drinking. Amazing! That was such a long flight over and I worried about them getting here dehydrated or not making it at all.  All worries for nothing. They were bright-eyed and happily being chickens.babychickens3

I had them warm and happy, and now I was happy. Then, one of the little babies fell face forward into a pile of straw, all stretched out like she’d been shot with a cannon. Just sort of splayed like a dressed bird for dinner. Did she die?  I almost panicked. One after another they all started falling over. Just like the light clicked off on their energy field and they fell in a flat faced “chicken down”! position. I didn’t like this… My heart was racing. I’d never had little babies before. Usually the birds are a few weeks old when I bought them.  When the first little hen stretched with a big long leg stretch, I realized they were just tired and fell over from exhaustion; like my kids would after a long day playing. Sometimes the kids didn’t even get to the bed, but would land on the floor and pass out. Whatever, I didn’t care as long as they were healthy and just napping. I checked.  Yes, all breathing!

I didn’t have any sort of water container for them either. What was I thinking? I don’t know. Flying dumbly? Likely. I did figure out a make-shift one to put their drinking water in though. Here’s my idea. The cup kept them from falling into it.

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That’s Georgia standing in the dish. She’s an Australorp.

So, even as ill-prepared I was for biddies, they still did just fine.  I didn’t know anything about raising biddies, especially not the tiny ones.

I was in love…

The babies got checked all day long and I woke in the night to look in on them. They saw me and usually roused and were happy to hear me talk to them or to be picked up.

They stayed in the tub until they were 4 weeks old. Now that was fun… (not). If I do this again I will have a proper brooder pen with heat lamps outside (I think). It was really nice getting to know them and learn their personalities. I don’t think if they had been outside, I’d have had nearly the time to know them like I do.

They are now 7 months old and laying. Most of them have names befitting their personality. I think most of them still identify myself as Mom, because they are especially attentive and most are pretty affectionate. I have a couple turd-heads who just don’t want to be mucked with. Fine with me… I have lots of snuggles for the ones who want to be snuggled with!

Here are a few of them at 5 weeks. They have a wonderful outside biddy yard.

Below is Georgia Photo-Bombing the snapshot!

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Happily hopping on the little roost in the biddy yard.

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I need to post some of their adult photos and will do that another day!

Enjoy your chickens!!

The Chicken Mom

Boo-Boo’s and Funky Stuff

Boo-Boo’s and Funky Stuff

This is Honey; the 10 lb cross-breed Buff Wyandotte, Copper Maran chicken.

IMG_1076In the photo Honey is standing in a huge 5 gallon pot. Yes, my sink is also huge. I had my hand gently on her back so she’d know I was there. The explosion of feathers, feet and claws I’d anticipated did not happen. 

She was quite calm, which is still something I am not use to. If a huge thing came and picked me up carried me into some weird enclosure, and plopped me down into a big pot of warm water, I’d come unglued. However, she didn’t, and I’ve seldom had any hen that did. I’ve had the girls for almost four years now. Still no real ambivilant behavior when I soak a hen in warm water.
I’m only guessing that it has something to do with sensory overload, so they just usually relax into a passive mass of fluff.

Honey was limping on a foot when I fed the ladies this morning. I picked her up and upon closer inspection I see she has a big black growth on the pad of her foot. It’s not swollen or puss filled, but it is most certainly a thick black scabby looking something stuck there.

I tentatively tug at it with my nail and see it’s attached onto the skin. Deciding it needs to come off I take Honey into the house for a good soaking in Epsom Salts and warm water. I took oodles of photos, but mostly because I thought she’d blow up…

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I laid her on her back on a towel and was ready to cover her head, but of course I snapped a picture of her on her back first. Then covered her head so she’d relax as I worked on her foot.

I hate to show you her foot but here’s the picture.
This condition is called (in the chicken forums) Bumble Foot. Some of the situations are way worse than this, with puss filled pockets. Honey’s was not that bad.

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After a long soaking of about 20 minutes I gently pried off the scab. It took a bit of doing, and it did bleed a little bit, but she is no worse for wear. It stopped soon after I took it off.

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I cleaned it off with Betadine and then used a good topical antibacterial dressing. The kind which does not have any pain additives. Analgesics are bad for chickens. After this I wrapped her foot with Vet Wrap and put her in a private recovery area so others wouldn’t peck at her wrapper.

The prognosis is good. She stayed in the enclosure a few days and she’s not limping anymore. The bandages came off and the old wound area looks clean and closed up neatly. Now she gets to go play with her other friends.
I can’t help but wonder what in the world is going to happen next…

Here’s a picture of Honey’s Eggs. I love how different they are each day. Sometimes almost copper and other days a more natural brown egg color. I actually dated each one as they were laid, so I could take note of the daily color changes.

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I call eggs “Magic”… They are Amazing!

Dyslexic Roosters

When I walk out the door in the morning, I am assaulted with the neighborhood roosters and their loud greetings of the new day. Our neighborhood is more or less rural-suburbia, with folks having one or two acre lots. On those lots they can have chickens or horses or cows, and god knows what else…  I guess most of my neighbors have chickens and choose to keep roosters. I on the other hand, I choose to not have roosters. They are beautiful, I admire them, and that’s where the attraction stops; and after concerned painstaking effort on my part to choose chicks which were hopefully female, I ended up with FIVE beautiful Roosters and Nine hens. I was awaken one morning with a horrific squalling, squealing, and hooting weirdness coming from the direction of the chicken yard. Stumbling to the door I peered outside in that general area and proudly attempting to crow was one of the new pullets. You could hear him trying to form a crow but the noise was a pitiful example of crowing. Continue this progressive morning scenario for two weeks: The family who lives the next road over must have several roosters, and I watch the little gray one I have listen closely as they one after the other, crow with a vengeance. Then he begins to attempt a mimic of their crowing. Except his crow was totally backwards… I was hoping and praying this was just an overly testosterone laden female crowing (they occasionally will attempt to mimic). The days following however, proved me wrong. Dayam!  The little Gray Roo pullet who is attempting to crow is a Blue Ameraucana (Not really blue). Here’s a photo of a Blue Pullet.

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http://www.backyardchickens.com / Without their help, I’d never have gotten through my first set of babies. Wonderful site! I highly recommend it.

Most chickens when they crow make a Urt Urt Urt Urrrrrr sound. This little dude hit notes nothing like that. I busted out laughing… Ouuuuu-Urrrrr-Urt-Urt-Urttttt!  Ouuuuu- Urrrrr-Urt-Urt-Urt!  I could see him with a face which said, “No that’s not quite right”!  He kept practicing and practicing, his face contorted with the effort. He even bent his neck sideways trying to squeeze the vocalizations just right.  This kept up for about two weeks. Then suddenly another one popped out with a tentative crow. Oh God…. More Roosters! That week and the week that followed I counted a total of FIVE Roosters! They were promptly packed up and driven back to the breeder who guaranteed that they would be hens. If I ended up with any Roos’ he’d take them back. He was good to his word, but he was really surprised that his method of sexing them had failed so badly. I told him that the Blue Ameraucana crowed backwards.  He figured they just had baby crows and had not quite got the crowing down yet. Then as I stood there talking to him, the Blue let out a healthy, Ouuuuu-Urrrrr-Urt-Urt-Urt! The man turned quickly at watched him let out another Dyslexic Crow and he laughed saying, “Well I’ll be Dang” The little guy does crow backwards!”. Skip (the chicken guy), ended up showing him with the 4H kids.  I wonder how a Dyslexic Rooster fared out with the 4H judging? The Chicken Mama

Ouch&Throwing in the Towel

For weeks and weeks I’ve stumbled over the words and just decided to not say a word about the death of my little chicken love. I’m not sure how really to talk about it without bawling my eyes out. I’ve just really just tried to look at this from an outsider view of events which might happen to others…  An Onlooker I shall become, so I can talk and therapeutically exercise my heart-break.   It may work. We shall see.

No pet has ever make me laugh like Lucy (OK, I need to practice the “Onlooker” partition and disassociate myself for a bit) (I just rolled my eyes – Oh god). She was a near perfect chicken. She may have looked like a normal Buff Orpington, but from the start I knew she was something AMAZING! She proved to be just that and more.

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Most chickens are just Chickens. Lucy was way above “Chicken” status. She’d reached favored pet, Best friend, and gave the bestest chicken hugs. Yes, I said, “bestest”. What else can you call it when a chicken sits on your lap nuzzles you close, and just puts her head on your shoulder and shuts her eyes? Yep, Bestest!

She followed me like a dog, gently pecked the beggar weeds off my shoes, and made little cooing sounds which told me she had discovered the bread in my pocket. If I was blue, Lucy was right there to remind me, ‘It’s going to be alright’.

There was a small wreck outside my house and in the rush to make sure all’s well out there, I forgot to close the gate all the way. A random dog also canvassed the scene outside the house, and found the open gate. Lucy and the other girls were out free ranging the acre, being chickens. The dog did what a dog might be prone to do in such a case; chase chickens. This he did and Lucy was dead before I could get him out of the yard. So, I feel a double whammy.  I leave the gate open, and Lucy is Dead. Of course I feel to blame.

I do know that chickens don’t live forever. I think 8 years is considered a nice long life. In trying to be philosophic here, but the sting is still burning of her being gone. I wasn’t ready to let her go.

Another stupid dog got Victoria, who I was able to save. Lucy she isn’t, but she’s a lovely, sweetheart of a hen who may just have potential… God knows, she sure doesn’t lay for crap! So, I’ll just love her to bits.

“I LOVE LUCY”  Thank you little darlin…

Things You Learn Later

…I feel like a rotten Chicken Mommy right now. For several weeks my girls have taken turns with the dreaded ‘sour crop’. For those who don’t know that term, it’s fairly common but even worse when you don’t feed properly; which I didn’t. Mostly, it is caused from the birds going to bed with a very – full crop and it not emptying properly through the night. Digestion slows at night-time, so if they eat a big hearty meal prior to bed, it can encourage spoilage in the crop and they get the sour crop.

Lemme tell you, it is no fun. I imagine it’s no fun for the birds either. They sort of swish and gurgle as they walk, and the breath smells foul. You can hear the fluid in the crop swishing and they gurgle; which sounds like blowing air bubble noise under water.  It’s pretty disgusting sounding.

Then there’s the bottom end of the business. The sick hen will get poop matted in the feathers and make a big ole’ drippy mess. It needs washed off. Sorry… No short cut here.

I’d been watching one of the Bard Rock hens, who was not acting quite right; for about three days. She was listless and nodded a lot, snoozing. Not like her at all. Her normal feisty temperament was clearly off. While not being very friendly, she was still a bright happy bird. Now she was pretty blah and I easily caught her.

I stuck the bird under my armpit backwards and sprayed the hose at her business end. The water was warm from the sun and it was a very long hose. Otherwise, I’d suggest you use warm water, dish pan and an expendable rag. Do this outside the pen away from the other hens, so no cross-contamination occurs. They don’t really seem to mind the process too much. The warm water actually relaxes them a lot.

She then went into the “Out Back”; which is what I call the separation pen. Suspicious acting birds go there.  Given clean bottom end, water and food and bedding, she was ready to get better.  Of course she didn’t eat and she wasn’t exactly happy about anything.  I took the food out of the pen and began putting a smaller bowl of yogurt and layer mash which had been wet down. I also put in a bowl tiny torn pieces of bread mixed with olive oil. She did peck at that a little at both so I kept those available for her.

I massaged her crop daily checking for the squishy feel and if it was full of   ‘stuff’. I noticed her sling her own head down a few times and what was inside was forced out. I didn’t know a chicken could clear their own crop… It was liquid. It smelled pretty nasty. OK, it was gross…

For the next three days, the little Bard Rock hen was given liquid yogurt, by syringe; about 3 ml every morning. By the third day she actually fed herself the yogurt when I presented it to her. Whew, much better!

She’s been puny for about five days now, but she’s on the mend and is actually eating her layer mash/yogurt mixture alone now.

Did you notice the bird in something ?  I had to stick her in the sleeve of a denim shirt. The only thing poking out was her neck and head. But, it kept her peaceful and she didn’t struggle. Actually, I was amazed at how calm she was during the whole process. When you work with a hen one-on-one, they tend to understand you are trying to help them. I’m not sure why, but they do seem to have a sense of knowing, which I never would have attached to a chicken; before.

I highly recommend this if you are doing the doctoring alone, without anyone to secure the bird.

This morning she seems way better and is eating whatever gets poked at her. We are going slowly at the reintroduction of foods. Right now the cultured yogurt and mash seem to be making her happy.

Her breath no longer stinks and she’s not “leaking” fluid. Her bottom is happy again without the mucky bottom.

So, I’ll end here with saying, this is one big lesson learned and I won’t be over feeding my hens anymore!

And I’ll call this post, – Things You Learn Later

Chicken Fetish

Recently after a barrage of chicken posts about the “girls”, it was suggested I had a “Chicken Fetish”. It went so far as to have recommended to me that I sell Chicken T-Shirts…. They’d say…

OK, all the good-natured ribbing aside; It did cause me to think about this chicken love I have. Even my husband stated that, If I could, I’d bring the girls inside the house! Yes, I protested that comment, but hell, I realized that the man is likely right. Pooh, I hate it when that happens.

Yesterday, I took a break from fixing the chicken fencing to have a sit down spell. Lucy was instantly at my feet making honking noise like a little goose, with her head between my knees. Her face was emphatic. She wants up in my lap. If I don’t grab her and put her there she’s going to make all sorts of contortions climbing up my leg, and I’d  prefer not to have those climbing marks left behind.

Bending over to get the ten pound Buff Orpington we call “Lucy”, I was stared down by a four pound Blue Ameraucana, Victoria, who was also putting her demand in for butt time, (Sitting down with Mommy). The girls have a defined pecking order, I give them all separate times so they don’t argue over the sanctity of the lap, or argue later on.

Lucy is settled down and hunkered down on my thigh, viewing from her majestic post the underlings of the chicken yard. She is queen and she knows it. “I love Lucy”. The TV show could have been done with a chicken instead of the pretty Red-Headed lady. I wonder how interesting that would have been for non-chicken-love’n people?  Likely, not very, but I am still sitting there, petting Lucy’s nape, scratching her little noggen, thinking about doing a TV show like that, when I look down and view the three faces of love beaming up from the ground, all waiting in line to get some time with Mommy.

The Other faces beaming at me are, Victoria, Elizabeth, Freckles. They love me…  Victoria, likes to be held like a baby, nuzzled and cuddled and kissed. Elizabeth likes the same thing. Her face says, “Just nuzzle me and hug me. I’m good”.  Freckles fidgets and gets nervous until she finds a place for her feet, then she’s noisy and make funny cooing noise, and wants her chin scratched and face kissed. With Lucy, it’s no holds barred.She’s up for most stuff. Ruffle her feathers, scratch her back, kiss her face, nuzzle her neck, rub her comb… She’ll endure anything, as long as she can sit with you.

It’s then I realize how blessed I am to have the adoration of four lovely little hens, who are spoiled rotten. Do I care? No… Of course, I’ve been accused of fostering dependent behavior in my chickens, but honestly, they are just giving back what I offer them, Lots of Love and caring.

I don’t see myself as a “chicken owner”. I think I see myself more as hanging out with my friends and caring for them. They are treated no less than a pet dog or cat of other animal with fur, you’d pet or cuddle. They do respond, and actually, I find them quite smart. The term, “Dumb Cluck” was evidently coined by a non-chicken-love’n person.

So, do I have a “Chicken Fetish”? Yes, Yes I do….