Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chicken Purrs

On a warm sunny day one of the favorite activities of the girls is a nice dust bath. The girls find patch of fine loose dirt and kick it up to their hearts content. Luckily there are a few nice patches in our yard that are ideal for a relaxing "bath". Their favorite spot is at the base of one of the juniper trees which gives them shade and keeps them from having to worry about hawks.

Once they get started rolling around and kick the dirt up and all around, it's pretty hard to get them moving until they are finished. Yesterday I wanted to move Meg into the coop with the other two, who were in their feasting on bird seed, but she was not at all interested.

Typically I let them hang out until they are done. Sometimes Napoleon will get in on the action but most of the time he just stands guard. The best part is when they get tired of kicking the dirt up and they get drowsy and start to purr.

Chickens definitely have a level of communication and there is no mistaking the fact that they are happy and content.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Back in the Pink

So just a brief update to let you know that Gertie is feeling much better. The limp is mostly gone so I guess the sprain is healing. She'll be happy to get out into the yard tomorrow and over the weekend for lots of yummy bugs, worms and grass.

For all of you who thought we were crazy to take a chicken to the vet, just hope I'm not responsible for your health care in the future.

That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Trauma Center

We had a bit of trauma here today. I let the gang out to free range yesterday because it was such a lovely day... finally a Saturday without rain! Everyone was happy to get out into the sun and the grass.

But then I noticed Gertie was favoring her right leg. She was limping along, trying her best to compensate for something.

I don't usually pick the girls up because they really don't like it but I had to look at her foot. So I put Meg and Napoleon outside and cornered Gertie so I could get her. Once I picked her up I felt all around her foot and up her leg. I couldn't see anything stuck in her foot anywhere and couldn't feel anything wrong. We decided to wait to see if it cleared up by the next day.

But when I let them out this morning, she was still limping. Even though we are in a semi-rural area there do not seem to be a lot of vets who'll treat farm animals and chickens in particular. I guess chickens don't rate health care generally. Well screw that.

So we found an After Hours vet, wrapped Gertie in a towel and drove her in.

She was actually better in the car than the dogs and cats. She seemed to like looking out the window and had a funny habit of flinching when we went under and overpass. I think the shadow freaked her out a bit.

The good thing is that we got to the vet okay and she got examined by a vet who has chickens herself. She said that Gertie did not appear to have a break or mites or something in her foot. She thought it was just a sprain. She gave her an injection for the pain and we were able to bring her home. We were worried that the other two chickens might hurt her when she came back in but all was well.

I hoping that she will be feeling better in the morning.

The chickens are watching you!

Moving On Out

I did more reading on chicken yards after all of the rain made the coop yard a mess. I found out that you should rotate their yard area 2 to 3 times per year. Well, we've had them in the same yard for about eight months. It was time for some extreme measures!

So our solution to the soggy sloppy coop yard was to create a new annex to the yard. Just next to the current coop yard is a very large maple tree and a bunch of messy brush that I had been meaning to totally clear out. Instead, we decided to make a loop off of the current fence, incorporate the tree into the perimeter and attach it to the side of the other shed we have.

We were hoping that they chickens would really like this because the currently like to scratch around under our other bushes. They would also be protected from hawks and shaded from the sun. We added a door to have access to the area as needed and we just cut a "doorway" into the existing fence panel.

So far its been working out well. They've limited their time in the current yard and seem to like running around under the bushes. We need to block off the old yard area so we can sod or seed it, so it will grow back. We have yet to do that but plan on doing it soon.