Spring Cleaning!

Today John mucked out the coop. We do the deep litter method of chicken keeping. That means that – typically – once or twice a year it will be mucked out and started all over again with fresh pine shavings. Throughout the course of the year additional fresh pine shavings are added to the top, when things need “freshened up” so to speak.

Aside from finding a WHOLE BUNCH of chicken poo, John also found 10 – yes, I said TEN – eggs – all of varying age. Elijah, my inquisitive nephew, decided to squeeze one of the eggs to see what would happen! Yeah – rotten egg is not such a pleasant experience when you end up wearing it.

See that white egg there behind John?

This Welsummer was pretty put out with John as he worked. She’d come in – squak at him – supervise his work for a while, leave for a while, then come back and repeat!

BB – along with all of the other girls – was trying to figure out what the heck we were doing in her coop!

You see – we do have a plan! (Of course!) John reattached the door that was taken off last fall – so that we can divide the coop once again. The big girls will sleep on the side that the nest boxes are on…

and the chicks that we’ll be getting this spring will hang out on the other side of the coop!
We are looking at adding chicks from the following breeds this year:
Cuckoo Maran
Ameracauna
Sussex
Minorca
Delaware
Barnevelder
Andalusian

I don’t know which of these we’ll actually be able to get our hands on – but I’ve started the process of seeking them out.

Tonight, the big girls were a little confused about all that was going on tonight when they were going to bed at first – but eventually settled down for the night just as they always do.

On a sad note. Angel, our California White with the prolapsed vent, has not responded to therapy. Even worse, her prolapsed vent seems to have gone necrotic – I believe she’s been pecking HERSELF. We had her in isolation – away from the other girls – so that they would not harm her – but apparently that wasn’t good enough. So we’ve decided to cull her from the flock. It seems the only humane thing to do.

What a Day!

This morning, as I was making William’s breakfast I happened to catch a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye – and lo and behold! What did I see? An escape artist!
Every morning, for the last several mornings, one of the California White’s has been managing to get out of the chicken yard and have at it without competition with the cat’s food. I can understand the motivation – but honestly, it can be a bit of a pain in the butt. Well, and then there’s the fact that solo chicken running around the yard seems – well – more vulnerable.

So – I made oatmeal for the girls, and the minute I took it in to them – escapee wanted back in. Go figure! Yeah, I wasn’t surprised, either.

So guess what! We had a GORGEOUS day today. It got up to nearly 60 degrees! Woo Hoo! SPRING WILL COME AGAIN! HALLELUJAH!

This is what Spring should look like:

And this…
and this…

and of course, this…
By the time the early afternoon rolled around, I decided it was time to let the girls out. Boy oh boy, where they happy to be out and about!

Caleb, hanging with the girls.

Pepper, running with her ball on a rope. She loves that toy!

And here’s Angel. Looks fine – but well, seemed a little more skittish than normal today.
I’d been keeping an eye on the California Whites because for the last three mornings there have been some VERY large white eggs in the nest boxes – and they’ve had quite a bit of blood on them. Hmmm… I decided I had to get to the bottom of this!
As it happened, I noticed that Angel had a BLACK butt. Yes, my chicken pictured above – like she looked like someone had held her over an open flame and singed her fanny. So I determined that I needed to catch her and get a closer look.
Yeah. Right. Not so much.

Thankfully, not much time went by and Jessica arrived home from school. Have I mentioned that my daughter is chicken wrangle extraordinaire? If not – let me just say it here and now: the girl has a gift!
So Jess and I set out to corner and catch the not so interested in being handled AT ALL chicken. Amusing.
So – we finally did it! We caught Angel and I did a little exam. Once I got a closer look it seemed as if her butt were just CAKED – like seriously – with poo, mud, dust, and some blood. Yuck. I realized that this was going to take a concerted effort, so Jess and I worked as a team. She held Angel, I found a large bucket and filled it with nice warm water, and then we set to… yep, bathing the chicken.
It took about 20 minutes, but once I had her butt all cleaned up – it didn’t take long for us to ascertain that something was more than just passingly not okay.
Warning: the pictures below are graphic! Like gross and ickey. Okay?


This, unfortunately, is a prolapsed vent. Darn it!

Poor Angel!

Anyway, eventually got her inito a second bath to make certain she was VERY clean (don’t want any infection to set in!), I went ahead and attempted to gently push the vent back into it’s appointed place! It stayed for about 10 minues, but then re-prolapsed. Darn it. I did get the Preparation H applied – and I’m hoping it helps her!

So – armed with excellent advice from older/wiser cihcken keepers, we’re keeping Angel separated from the rest of the flock, we have her in a location where she can’t hear the rest of life going on around her. It should be restful for her.

And we’ve also draped the crate she’s in with blankets – to help keep her warm.

I think we’ve done all we can for her just now.

I’ll keep you updated on Angel’s progress.

My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!

Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!

Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!

Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!