Thursday, December 4, 2008

Called back to post

Suzanne has given me a nudge so here goes! Ok to catch up on the lost chicken. Turned out to be a neighbor's bird we kept her in our yard for a awhile giving her much needed food and water. We talked to our neighbors to see who's bird she was. She seemed to be ok after the "dog fight". Her name turned out to be Larry. I have to tell you, our neighborhood is known for attracting strange inhabitants myself included! Larry the chicken (and yes a female) is named after Larry our local wood carver and manager of our little art gallery here in Woody Creek. The locals call themselves woody creatures, strange I know.

Back to the tale of Larry: My neighbor was kind of wandering down the street looking around and I asked her in passing if she was looking for something. She was, her chicken! I was so happy to reunite her with her bird. Larry was a bit shaken up over the whole experience a couple of days in a strangers yard with other chickens to boot! Not even a thank you for care taking her bird! Can you believe it? Strange, very strange. I was raised for the first 10 years of my life in NYC and I have better manners than that. She was kind of spaced out if that maybe explains it... Anyways long story short. Larry and owner walked off into the afternoon Larry riding away on my neighbor's arm like a parrot. It was so surreal like out a strange artsy movie.

Months later now, I have had an extremely successful summer. We had a wedding (ours), a trip to South America not in that order, a trip to Miami for another wedding in July and then work work work. Being a chef is tough. We did a ton of work on our house with upgrades etc, and I did a TON of work in the yard. The girls had a blast. And I have to say our little feather footed creatures are much easier on the lawn and flower beds! They don't scratch as much but they are not proficient layers. They had their molt late September and haven't laid since. Usually molting lasts 6 weeks.

I extended our yard by ripping out a useless deck that rapped around our porch so the girls gained some more lawn. The green house is still producing Swiss chard and herbs and I planted some new spinach and lettuce which is doing really well even in the cold temps and snowy days. I also added numerous fruit trees to the property and a couple of nut trees. We'll see how they do in the high altitude.

The girls are adjusting to the cold well. It's been down to 8 degrees F (-13 C) only a couple nights. The eglu is double insulated and does really well to keep the girls warm. Thy huddle together towards the back near the egg collection door. I changed their shade back to the full sized winter one and it's given protection from the elements. I have the run literally next to a 5' high wooden fence, so they are well protected from drafts and our harsh mountain winds. The girls do just fine. I close them in at night, which occasionally is a pain in the butt! Victoria likes to run out every time she hears the front door open, I guess she's looking for snacks. What a pill! So I have to wait until it gets late to close the door. I guess when she decides she's not interested in snacks. My little piggy!

The little ones, which aren't so little anymore, have started a weird behavior of perching together on their shelf in their wooden coop. Which is outside of the hut. I'm definitely going to hang a bulb in there for them soon. I have to scoot them up their ramp into their house and close the door on them! They are still sitting out there in 26 F (-3 C) degree weather! And they put up such a stink when I scoot them in. So bizarre! You would think that they want to be warm and toasty. I know I do!

My biggest challenge is keeping the water from freezing. We have a system of pulling in the bowls at night and filling them in the am but during the day, on extremely cold days it freezes. The little ones are going to get a warmer base for under the waterer but the eglu glug is a difficult matter. I have given the girls an auxiliary waterer on occasion and I'm thinking that this winter we may have to do a warmer for them as well. Last winter I just emptied it and filled it enough times that it never became dangerous, but it was a pain in the butt!

I will be starting to put Vaseline on the girl's wattles and combs, this helps to prevent frost bite. I also recommend to all the eglu owners out there, get the winter shade. I have pictures posted from 2 winters ago where the shade created a snow cave and the girls were quite cozy in there. Just make sure you don't let the snow get too deep and heavy! We had a leaning run that we had to shovel out.

Ok and on a totally gross note, our blue Cochin had prolapsed with an egg encased in her cloaca. This is not for the weak stomached but I really need to share this experience in case some one else has this problem. OMG! I really had to fight not to throw up. I brought her in to the kitchen sink and washed her bottom. Really assessed the situation, read so many things online and it scared the bejesus out of me. From everything I read, Luna would be a goner. I had to crack the egg to get the prolapsed cloaca to release it. It was have encased and dried around the egg. I couldn't believe I had missed it. I'm sorry to say that I think it was a couple of days that my poor girl was in this state. I felt so terrible, such a bad chicken mommy! I called the local vet and no one would see a chicken! All this farm and ranch land and no chicken vets? Anyway, I rinsed and rinsed with mild soap and warm NOT HOT water. Then, applied Preparation H (with an exam glove on) to the cloaca and pushed it back in. I started them on Antibiotics right away, I had some from a kit I purchased from McMurray Hatchery online. I was so stressed and scared. We had lost two girls before to strange causes and I was beginning to take it personally. I treated her everyday with the Prep -H and pushed it back in (with a glove) and thank god one day the red and irritated cloaca returned to it's normal position! I was so happy! She's doing well, eating, drinking and gaining weight. I have not been able to determine if she has laid since then, so I'm a little worried to see what's going to happen when she goes back into laying mode. But everything looks ok right now (fingers crossed).

I will get around to taking pictures and posting them! I hope I was able to answer some questions or concerns for Suzanne!
There are tons of books out there on care and maintenance my first one was "Keeping Pet Chickens" by, Johannes Paul and William Windham. It's a good place to start.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post! It was really interesting - I like the sound of your neighbourhood - plenty of chickens and so fascinating inhabitants!

We have had our snow for the year I think - about a quarter of an inch with temperatures down to about -4C. That's about as bad as it gets round here- very mild really - nothing like your weather!

My first chicken book was the same one as yours, written by the Eglu guys. Its a really good starter book but you can't beat the experience of other chicken owners and the Omlet website club is brilliant.

After reading about your cloaca episode I was mortified and am now praying to the chicken gods that my two girls don't succumb to anything that grim! Well done for sorting it out without those pesky vets!

So keep on posting - glad you're back!

Love Suzanne

James said...

Thanks for posting about the cloaca incident, I always worry when when of my B's seems stressed. Hopefully it won't happen!

Laurel said...

So glad that you are back to posting... I have had the same problem with vets not seeing chickens... I called the large animal vet and they actually laughed at me, apparently to them chickens are expendable. My latest dilemma with my hens has been my rooster... he found us much like your rogue hen but because I only have 6 hens he has been taking advantage of them to the point they have started to lose feathers on their backs... OUCH! So I ordered a few more hens and made chicken saddles! Now my DH will be able to tell them apart as I have stamped their names on the backs of the saddles :)